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Senate Commerce Eyeing Mid-September for O'Rielly FCC Hearing: Sources

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.

John Eggerton
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.