Sen. Cantwell Speaks Out Against Pai Renomination

Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.) took to the Senate floor Wednesday to oppose the nomination of FCC chair Ajit Pai for a new term on the commission, citing network neutrality.

Pai's term actually expired in June 2016, but commissioners can serve until the end of the next Congress, which would be the end of this year. His nomination is expected to get a vote in the Senate--and almost certain approval by majority Republicans--this week or early next.

House Majority Leader Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has moved to close off debate and vote on the nomination after Democrats last month prevented a procedural short-cut vote usually reserved for noncontroversial nominations.

Sen. Cantwell said she opposes the nomination because of Pai's efforts to roll back net neutrality--the chairman has proposed rolling back the Title II classsification of ISPs and revisit the rules against blocking, throttling and paid prioritization.

Cantwell said Pai had moved the FCC away from its key public service mission, including net neutrality, which she called one of the most important issues of our time.

She told her colleagues that in the information age, making sure the internet remains open is key. She also said that the vote on Pai's nomination would happen on Monday (Oct. 2). 

She said Pai was trying to clog the arteries of one of the fastest growing economic opportunities in America. "I am not going to vote for someone who is going to clog the internet."

Cantwell's floor speech comes on a Day of Advocacy, when pro-Title II groups are taking to the Hill to lobby for preserving Title II and the 2015 Open Internet Order.

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.