According to industry sources, the Senate Commerce Committee has been looking at Sept. 18 as a possible date for a confirmation hearing on Republican FCC nominee Michael O'Rielly, the longtime Hill--House and Senate--staffer tapped by the President to succeed Robert McDowell.
If that were the case--both sources said the date could be pushed and was not set--it could speed the seating of FCC chair nominee Tom Wheeler, who has already been voted out of committee, but whose full Senate vote almost certainly won't happen until it is paired with O'Rielly's.
There has been at least one threat of a possible hold on Wheeler's nomination. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) has said he did not get a sufficient answer from Wheeler on whether the FCC could use its authority to do what he and other Republicans would consider an end-run around Congress by boosting political ad disclosures. If there was a hold on Wheeler’s nomination, a vote on O'Rielly would likely be in limbo as well.
O'Rielly is policy adviser to Senate minority whip John Cornwyn (R-Texas), and was a top tech/telecom policy adviser to former Sen. John Sununu (R-N.H.) and former Rep. Tom Bliley (R-Va.). The choice was the President's, but by custom dating to the Clinton White House, the president usually defers to the choice of Republican Senate leaders.
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