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McDowell Nomination Hits a Snag

There is an apparent hold-up in the nomination of Comptel's Robert McDowell to the one remaining seat on the FCC.

Reuters reported Monday that commerce Committee Member Senator Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.) had put a hold on the nomination. Any Senator can hold up a vote on a nominee and that nominee is in limbo until the hold is lifted.

Rockefeller's office would not confirm or deny the report, but the Senator does have issues with the FCC and accounting rules applying to the administration of the Universal Service Fund (USF), which bankrolls telecommunications services to poorer areas.

"Senator Rockefeller wants the administration to provide clarification and written confirmation that the USF accounting problem is fixed," said a Rockefeller staffer.

The problem, to make a very long story short, is new accounting rules introduced to insure the government had appropriated the money for a program before it spends it. Those rules had an adverse impact on the distribution of funds to schools, libraries, and rural telcos when the FCC, under the direction of the OMB, began applying them to the USF.

According to a source, Rockefeller's office has gotten assurances from the administration that it will fix the problem, but the Senator wants it in writing.

Presumably when and if that happens, the hold, which Rockefeller's office will not confirm or deny, will be lifted and McDowell's nomination can be voted on and the FCC can begin to take up some key issues, like its rewrite of the media ownership rules.