Senate Confirms Gina Raimondo as Commerce Secretary

Gina Raimondo
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The Senate has voted 84-15 to confirm Rhode Island Governor Gina Raimondo as President Joe Biden's new Secretary of Commerce.

Commerce incorporates the National Telecommunications & Information Administration, which is the White House's chief policy advisory arm and oversees government spectrum use. Over the past couple of years it as been in a bit of a battle with the FCC over sharing government spectrum or freeing up spectrum too close, at least for NTIA's comfort, to GPS spectrum. 

Commerce is also charged, along with the FCC, with keeping an eye on the network tech supply chain to make sure that foreign tech that poses a risk to U.S. networks, like that of some Chinese telecoms, does not compromise national security.

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Prior to becoming governor, Raimondo helped found venture capital firm Point Judith Capital and, before that, was the state's general treasurer. Raimondo is a graduate of Harvard, has masters and doctoral degrees from Oxford, where she was a Rhodes Scholar, and has a law degree from Yale.

Raimondo had gotten praise from some industry quarters for being ahead of the tech curve. 

During a virtual meeting with small business leaders last month, Raimondo talked about the importance of access to broadband, something Joe Biden did as Vice President when one of his issues was giving small businesses the opportunities to scale up that broadband provides.

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At her nomination hearing, Raimondo was asked about the tension between the FCC and NTIA over spectrum and whether she supported freeing up more government spectrum, She said that she wanted America to "win and lead" the race to 5G and that that included finding additional government spectrum. She said there needed to be a national spectrum strategy, a point on which she is in agreement with acting FCC chair Jessica Rosenworcel, who complained about the lack of such a strategy under FCC chairman Ajit Pai (he disputed that).

“Secretary Raimondo is well equipped to oversee a broad range of our industry’s policy priorities, including trade, copyright, telecommunications and technology," said Charles Rivkin, chairman of the Motion Picture Association. " As President Biden’s chief advisor on intellectual property matters, we are confident she recognizes copyright’s value as an economic engine that supports 5.7 million jobs across all 50 states and adds $1.5 trillion to the economy annually. Additionally, as the Commerce Department’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration represents U.S. interests before the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), we look forward to the Department’s continued support for robust enforcement against those who use the internet for unlawful purposes, such as violations of intellectual property."

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“Congratulations to Governor Raimondo on her confirmation to lead the Commerce Department," said USTelecom President Jonathan Spalter. "This is a department with a critical role in our connected digital future – from cybersecurity to 5G and spectrum management to broadband deployment, accessibility and equity. This work is more important than ever, and USTelecom members are committed to working with Secretary Raimondo to support and grow our digital economy, increase broadband opportunity and finally achieve our universal connectivity goals.”

“The technology industry congratulates Secretary Raimondo on her confirmation," said Jason Oxman, president of tech trade association ITI. "Now, more than ever, it is critical that the U.S. demonstrates a meaningful commitment to digital policies that drive U.S. economic competitiveness and improve Americans’ lives, such as broadband, industry standards, supply chain security, and trade. We look forward to working with Secretary Raimondo and her team to advance these measures and the goals that enable American companies to lead the world in innovation and technology.” 

“We congratulate Governor Raimondo on her confirmation by the Senate as Commerce Secretary," said CTIA President Meredith Attwell Baker. "Throughout her distinguished career of civil service, she has been a champion for innovation and economic growth. She was an early leader on 5G, one of the first to recognize the ability next-generation networks have to expand connectivity and create jobs in communities across the country. We look forward to working with the Secretary to build our 5G economy and help close the digital divide.”

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.