Nelson Pushes for Rosenworcel Confirmation

WASHINGTON — Sen. Bill Nelson (D-Fla.), ranking member of the Senate Commerce Committee, says it is past time for the Senate to confirm Federal Communications Commission member Jessica Rosenworcel, suggesting it was a promised confirmation that has yet to be honored by Republicans.

Nelson used his opening remarks during an FCC oversight hearing on Wednesday (March 2) to make his point, saying her confirmation should come “as soon as possible.” Rosenworcel's renomination was unanimously approved by the Commerce Committee late last year, but the full Senate has yet to vote.

Nelson said that he wanted to recall for the record that, at the end of the last Congress (in December of 2014), Republican FCC Commissioner Michael O’Rielly was confirmed, even though there was no Democrat to pair him during that process, on the promise that Republicans would confirm Rosenworcel quickly in the new Congress. He said that Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) had told him that Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) had promised former Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.) — then the Commerce Committee chairman, and Rosenworcel’s former boss — that her nomination would be moved without delay in the new Congress. That new Congress is now in its second year, Nelson noted.

He conceded that the nomination was now on the executive calendar and Committee Chairman John Thune (R-S.D.) was working on the issue. But he also said they should not risk losing “her leadership and thoughtful approach to the crucial issues. I hope we will fulfill the promise that was made in order to confirm commissioner O'Rielly.”

The President renominated the Democratic commissioner for a new five-year term back in May. Her current term expired in June, but she could serve until the end of 2016 without renomination. 

The committee is Rosenworcel's old stomping ground. She was a top aide to Rockefeller.

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.