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McDowell Still Doing the Limbo

Senator Mary Landrieu (D-LA), daughter of former New Orleans Mayor Moon Landrieu, says she will continue her hold on all executive nominations--that includes Bush nominee for FCC Commissioner Robert McDowell--until the White House "fulfills its promise."

A single Senator can block a vote on nominations, and Landrieu has pledged to do so--hers doesn't apply to judicial or military appointments, however--until the White House agrees to fund a comprehensive rebuilding of the New Orleans levees that failed to such disastrous result due to Hurricane Katrina.

A Landrieu staffer said the Senator had sent the President a letter Tuesday outlining her concerns and informing him of the hold, but at press time had yet to get any response.

Katrina continues to loom over the appointment. The government's, including the FCC's focus, on the storm for much of the fall is part of the reason that an FCC vacancy dating from last March, when FCC Chairman Michael Powell exited, did not get a candidate until early 2006.
And McDowell is doubly blocked. There is another hold on his nomination that was being attributed to Senator, Jay Rockefeller (D-W.VA), placed over concerns about funding for telecommunications service to schools and libraries.

Senate Commerce Committee Chairman Ted Stevens (R-Alaska), who proposed McDowell, said Thursday that he believed the hold was not coming from Rockefeller, though he may have been referring to the Landrieu hold rather than the lifting, or nonexistence, of a Rockefeller hold.

The FCC will likely not start its media ownership rule rewrite until McDowell, the third Republican vote on a five-person commission, is seated. That looks like it could push the rewrite past the two-year mark.

A Philadelphia appeals court sent the rules back to the FCC in June 2004 with instructions to better justify its reasoning.