D.C. Weighs in on Simington Confirmation to FCC

FCC nominee Nate Simington
(Image credit: C-SPAN)

Congratulations began to flow following the 49 to 46 Republican party line vote to confirm Nathan Simington to the FCC.

He was President Trump's pick to fill the seat being vacated by Commissioner Michael O'Rielly after Trump withdrew O'Rielly's nomination, reportedly over the President's differences with O'Rielly on regulating social media and the FCC's authority to do so.

“I congratulate Nathan on his confirmation by the U.S. Senate and look forward to welcoming him to the Commission," said FCC Chairman Ajit Pai, though it will be "hi and goodbye" because Pai is exiting next month. 

Related: Simington Confirmed to FCC

"It has been the greatest honor of my professional life to serve at the FCC, and I am confident that Nathan too will enjoy the challenges and rewards of the job," said the chairman. "Nathan was raised in a rural community, and his confirmation ensures that this important perspective will continue to be represented on the Commission for years to come as the FCC continues its work on bridging the digital divide. And with his experience at NTIA and in the private sector, Nathan is well-positioned to hit the ground running.”

That will likely not happen until after the FCC's Thursday (Dec. 10) public meeting, which features issues O'Rielly has deep knowledge about.

“I want to extend my congratulations to Nathan Simington on his confirmation tonight by the United States Senate to serve on the Federal Communications Commission," said Brendan Carr, who will be Simington's fellow Republican on the commission. "Nathan will bring a wealth of private and public sector experience to the Commission, including having served most recently as Senior Advisor in the National Telecommunications and Information Administration. Once he is sworn in, I look forward to working together with him and my other colleagues on the Commission on common sense policies that will advance the public interest.”

"I congratulate Nathan Simington on his confirmation," said Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel, in a notably sparse statement. "I welcome him to the Federal Communications Commission. Serving the American people is a great honor. I look forward to working with him as we take on our nation’s most pressing digital age communications challenges."

Her brevity was matched by the other Democratic commissioner, Geoffrey Starks: "Congratulations to Nathan Simington on his confirmation to the Federal Communications Commission. The FCC’s policies are critical to our shared future and I look forward to working with him in the days ahead.”

“Nathan Simington’s confirmation will help ensure a balanced FCC and continued light-touch regulatory approach that has kept the internet free and open for all Americans,” said Senate Commerce Committee Chairman Roger Wicker (R-Miss.). “I look forward to working with him to advance U.S. leadership in 5G, expand access to broadband, and secure our nation’s communications networks.”

“NAB congratulates Nathan Simington on his confirmation to the Federal Communications Commission," said National Association of Broadcasters President Gordon Smith. "We look forward to working with him and his colleagues on policies that enable broadcasters to best serve their communities at a time when local broadcasters’ role to educate and inform Americans has never been more important.”

“ACA Connects congratulates Commissioner Nathan Simington on his Senate confirmation, and we look forward to working with him on the key issues at the top of the country’s communications agenda, including efforts to deliver high-performance broadband service to all Americans," said association president Matt Polka. “ACA Connects agrees with Commissioner Simington, who noted in his Senate testimony last month that we are much closer to closing the digital divide today than we were a few short years ago but we must continue to seek opportunities to improve and extend connectivity.”

“We congratulate Nathan Simington on his confirmation to the FCC," said NCTA-the Internet & Television Association President Michael Powell, himself a former FCC commissioner and chairman. "Mr. Simington joins the FCC at a time when our national commitment to connect every American to broadband is more vital than ever. We look forward to working with him and his colleagues to find creative solutions that will promote private sector investment and innovation rather than returning to obsolete regulatory models of the past that would only stifle broadband deployment.”

“USTelecom looks forward to working with Mr. Simington in the coming days to advance the urgent and bipartisan goal of accelerating broadband connectivity to all in the United States," said USTelecom President Jonathan Spalter. "The value of broadband – and the state-of-the-art networks our members invest in and build – has never been clearer, and the work of the FCC in the years ahead will have a profound impact on connectivity and America’s global digital leadership. Whatever the challenge – COVID-19, economic recovery, job creation, racial equity, healthcare, education or national security – broadband is essential to our nation’s connected future. Count on USTelecom to work with Commissioner Simington and the rest of his colleagues on the Commission to meet these challenges head on and create opportunities to finally put the digital divide in the rearview mirror.”

“We congratulate Nathan Simington on his Senate confirmation to be an FCC Commissioner," said Consumer Technology Association President Gary Shapiro. "The FCC advances policies that are essential to U.S. technology leadership–from increasing spectrum access to building infrastructure to equipment authorizations. We look forward to working with Commissioner Simington and his colleagues to continue the momentum that Chairman Pai set in motion when he assumed leadership of the FCC. 

“When Chairman Pai steps down in January, the FCC will be deadlocked," said Shapiro, a point Democrats made in opposing the Simington confirmation. "As such, we urge the commission to work together in a bipartisan way to achieve shared goals, focus on those issues that are core to the agency’s mission and remain consistent with our free-enterprise values as a nation," he said. 

“We look forward to working with Mr. Simington, the other FCC Commissioners and staff, as they continue to address the nation’s vital communications needs including closing the digital divide and insuring increased spectrum availability," said Comcast executive VP Mitch Rose. "As committed public servants Chairman Ajit Pai and Commissioner Michael O’Rielly prepare to leave the Commission in the new year, we thank them for their service...."

"The Internet Innovation Alliance congratulates Nathan Simington on his Senate confirmation to the Federal Communications Commission," said the Internet Innovation Alliance in a statement. "In these unprecedented times, America’s internet infrastructure has shown resilience that illustrates why our high-speed broadband communications is the envy of the world. As a member of the FCC, Simington’s wireless industry experience, grasp of 5G and understanding of the entire internet ecosystem will aid the Commission as it continues to craft policies that will help close the digital divide and advance next-generation networks."

Simington is currently with the National Telecommunications & Information Administration and before that worked for Brightstar.

"[We] congratulate Nathan Simington on receiving an affirmative confirmation vote in the U.S. Senate,” said Todd Schlekeway, president of NATE, Communications Infrastructure Contractors Association. “Over the years, NATE has established strong relationships with FCC Commissioners and their respective staff members and looks forward to working closely with Mr. Simington on the many policy and regulatory issues facing our dynamic industry. Looking ahead, NATE also looks forward to collaborating with the new Democrat Commissioner who is ultimately confirmed in 2021," Schlekeway added.

“The FCC plays a critical role in implementing policies to bridge the digital divide and Connect Americans Now looks forward to working with Mr. Simington to eliminate the broadband gap for every American,” said Connect Americans Now (CAN) executive director Richard T. Cullen. “The pandemic has exacerbated the impact of the digital divide on millions of unserved and underserved Americans, increasing the urgency for policymakers in Washington to tackle this challenge as a top priority.”

“We congratulate Nathan Simington on his confirmation as an FCC Commissioner and look forward to working with him on ways the FCC can support robust network investment to usher in the 4th industrial revolution and the transformational digital benefits it will bring to consumers and businesses,” said David Bartlett, VP of federal government affairs for Lumen (formerly CenturyLink). 

"WISPA extends a hearty welcome and congratulations to Nathan Simington for his Senate confirmation as FCC Commissioner today," said the Wireless Internet Service Providers Association. "He comes to the Commission at a time when the nation is at an important crossroads in getting all Americans online.  The pandemic revealed just how necessary broadband is for our health, safety and general welfare, and we look forward to working with him on growing broadband, as well as other policy matters during his tenure at the FCC.

"We’d like to also take this opportunity to thank Mike O’Rielly for his work on the Commission. He was a steadfast champion of the telecom industry.  He worked to keep regulation low, enabling growth and innovation in all of our networks.  And he understood how important it was to get service out to those in the digital divide, so all of us could prosper.  We wish him the best of luck and success as he moves on to other endeavors."

"We extend our congratulations to the newest FCC Commissioner, Nathan Simington, for his Senate confirmation," said Parents Television Counsel President Tim Winter. "We look forward to working collaboratively with him on FCC matters, especially those issues that come before the Commission that impact children and families. Broadcast decency laws must be enforced, the TV content ratings system must be improved to better protect children from inappropriate or harmful content, and the Commission must continue its regulatory oversight in the public interest, not the corporate interest,” said PTC President Tim Winter.

“To outgoing FCC Commissioner Mike O’Rielly, I offer my personal gratitude for his years of public service, and I wish him all the best in his future endeavors.”

"The Fiber Broadband Association congratulates Nathan Simington on his confirmation to the Federal Communications Commission," said FBA in a statement. "We look forward to his leadership at the FCC as our members work to close the digital divide with the deployment of all fiber networks."

Not everyone was breaking out the champagne.

"This is an utterly disappointing move that does nothing but block the FCC from ensuring people can connect as we move into the dark winter of the COVID-19 pandemic," said Evan Greer, deputy director of Fight for the Future. "Every single Senator who voted to confirm Nathan Simington betrayed their constituents and their oath to uphold the Constitution," she said.

“The confirmation of Nathan Simington to the FCC comes as no surprise, however, it does come with a cost to America’s unserved and underserved communities," said Ryan Johnston, policy counsel at Next Century Cities. 

“At a time when broadband access is critical and millions of people still lack basic access to the internet, we need Commissioners who are singularly focused on promoting universal access, ensuring that those who need to be connected will be. Without reliable connectivity, those in need are unable to attend class, work, obtain healthcare, or access government service.... “Unfortunately, this appointment was born of a desire to transform the FCC into speech police."

John Eggerton

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.