Jessica Rosenworcel Named Acting FCC Chair

FCC Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel
(Image credit: FCC)

As expected, President Joe Biden has named Democratic Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel as acting chairwoman of the FCC.

It is unclear whether she will eventually lose the "acting" or whether the President has someone else in mind. Since the Senate is controlled by Democrats, it will be easier for him to pick someone else, who still needs Senate confirmation, though Rosenworcel has plenty of fans inside and outside the commission, particularly on Capitol Hill. 

She will be the second woman so named, after Mignon Clyburn, who was named acting chair between the chairmanships of Julius Genachowski and Tom Wheeler.

Also Read: D.C. Applauds Rosenworcel Pick as Acting FCC Chairwoman

“I am honored to be designated as the Acting Chairwoman of the Federal Communications Commission by President Biden," said Rosneworcel. "I thank the President for the opportunity to lead an agency with such a vital mission and talented staff.  It is a privilege to serve the American people and work on their behalf to expand the reach of communications opportunity in the digital age.”

Rosenworcel voted against deregulating internet providers and has called for the return of rules against blocking, throttling and paid prioritization, as had fellow Democratic commissioner Geoffrey Starks. She and Starks also voted against eliminating broadcast regulations. 

President Biden has already signaled, during his campaign, that his FCC will be restoring network neutrality rules.

She can be expected to make closing the broadband "homework" gap one of her signature issues.

Until Democrats can confirm a new Democrat to fill the seat of exiting Republican chair Ajit Pai, the commission will be at a 2-2 political tie, meaning noncontroversial items are likely on the docket at the outset. 

Also Read: CWA Backs Rosenworcel as FCC Chair

Rosenworcel has taken a peripatetic route to the acting chairmanship.

After having served on the commission between 2012 and the end of 2016, she was required to exit at the end of 2016 after Congress failed to bring her renomination to a vote despite unanimous approval by the Senate Commerce Committee and support from both Democratic and Republican legislative leaders after Senate Republican leadership would not schedule a vote.

Rosenworcel's renomination got caught up in an unrelated political fight between the Republicans and Democrats over nominations in general. That was ultimately resolved and President Trump nominated her for a new term, which she started in August 2017.

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.