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Senate Confirms Alvaro Bedoya to Vacant FTC Seat

An exterior view of the Federal Trade Commission building
(Image credit: Future)

The Federal Trade Commission has a Democratic majority, thanks to a razor-thin Senate victory for nominee Alvaro Bedoya.

The Senate voted to confirm Bedoya to the commission, meaning as soon as he is sworn in, he will be round out a full complement of commissioners, three Democrats and two Republicans.

But after a 50-50 tally strictly along party lines Wednesday (May 11), it took a tie-breaking vote by Vice President Kamala Harris to get Bedoya on the commission. The Senate had deadlocked on a vote to report his nomination out of committee in March, requiring a Harris tiebreaker as well.

Because the vote in the Senate Commerce Committee to refer him favorably to the Senate for confirmation was a tie, the Senate first had to vote to discharge him from the committee, then to confirm him, the latter of which happened Wednesday.

Also: ‘Wall Street Journal’ Takes Fresh Aim at FCC Nominee Gigi Sohn

“With a full slate of commissioners, the FTC must now act swiftly and boldly to use the full scope of its authority to protect consumers, particularly in communities of color and other marginalized communities, who disproportionately experience harm both online and offline,” Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) said.

“Professor Bedoya is an accomplished scholar with a proven record as an institution-builder and a consensus-builder," said Joshua Stager, deputy director of broadband and competition policy at New America’s Open Technology Institute. “His expertise and dedication to the public interest are precisely what the American people need in an FTC commissioner. We congratulate him on his confirmation and look forward to the FTC returning to full capacity. There is so much work to be done, and we know Professor Bedoya will hit the ground running.”

Fight for the Future executive director Evan Greer used the opportunity to call for a vote on Federal Communications Committee nominee Gigi Sohn, who, like Bedoya, needs the Senate to first vote her nomination out of committee, then give her an up or down vote on confirmation.

Unlike Bedoya, the Senate has not yet voted to discharge Sohn's nomination, which was also tied as to  whether to favorably report her.

“Alvaro Bedoya’s confirmation to the FTC could not come soon enough,” Greer said. “His expertise in privacy and human rights are sorely needed, and with Congress dragging its feet, it’s essential that the FTC moves quickly to address harms like data harvesting, algorithmic discrimination, and biometric surveillance. … Now, Democrats need to get their act together and move quickly to confirm Gigi Sohn to the Federal Communications Commission.” ■

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.