It's official. The Senate has voted to confirm Federal Communications Commission chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel to a new, five-year term on the commission, her third term but first as chair — President Joe Biden designated her chair Oct. 26 after she had been acting chair since January.
The vote was 68 to 31.
Had the Senate not voted to confirm her, Rosenworcel would have had to leave the commission at the end of the year since her current term had expired. Commissioners are allowed to stay on through the end of the next Congress.
The full-Senate vote came after a cloture vote Monday night (December 6) that also saw a majority of Republicans — 27 — vote against advancing her nomination to the floor (she recieved 66 “yea” votes). A number of Republicans and two Democrats, Sens. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.), did not vote.
Rosenworcel will still need a third Democrat on the commission to tackle some of the politically divisive issues like re-regulation of broadcast and internet-service providers. Gigi Sohn has been nominated for that seat, but has had a tough time convincing Republicans to support her nomination, Sen. Thom Tillis (R-N.C.) in particular, who Monday (Dec. 6), signaled he would block the nomination.
“Chairwoman Rosenworcel has served as a tireless advocate for consumer protection in today’s digital landscape,” said Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.), who spoke in support of her nomination before Monday's cloture vote. “Now more than ever, the FCC needs a chair who understands the importance of net neutrality and critical protections for broadband users, and I know chairwoman Rosenworcel is up for the task. She understands that broadband access is an essential utility to millions of small businesses, communities, and students, and has long partnered with me in addressing the ‘homework gap’ to ensure every student has internet connectivity to complete their homework at home. Together we worked to implement the Emergency Connectivity Fund, providing $7.17 billion in E-Rate home connectivity funding across the country, including $47.5 million for Massachusetts to date. I know that Chairwoman Rosenworcel will continue to successfully administer this program, and I believe she is the best person to lead the FCC in its important work.”
“Jessica Rosenworcel will be a dynamic, determined enforcer and advocate for all consumers and underserved Americans,” said Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), who championed the nomination of his fellow Connecticut native. “As a vigorous consumer champion with deep roots in Connecticut, her confirmation is a historic step forward for both the FCC and our state," he said. "I’ve seen firsthand Chair Rosenworcel’s commitment to ending the scourge of robocalls and closing the digital divide that plagues far too many disadvantaged communities. As funding from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Deal goes to accessible high-speed internet, the FCC will now have an affordable broadband, net neutrality, and privacy champion leading implementation. I’ve been proud to advocate for her nomination as a member of the Senate Commerce Committee, and I look forward to welcoming Chair Rosenworcel back to Connecticut as she continues her impressive work at the FCC.”
“Charter Congratulates chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel on her confirmation to lead the Federal Communications Commission," said Charter EVP, government affairs, Catherine Bohigian. "Throughout her career in public service, Chairwoman Rosenworcel has proven herself a thoughtful leader and champion on behalf of consumers on the most pressing connectivity challenges such as closing the digital divide, eliminating the homework gap, improving public safety communications, increasing unlicensed spectrum for WiFi, and encouraging innovative spectrum policies. We look forward to continuing to work together on these and other important issues that will drive American innovation and connectivity forward.”
“I want to extend my congratulations to Chairwoman Rosenworcel on her confirmation by the Senate to serve another five-year term on the FCC,“ said Republican commissioner Brendan Carr. "Under her leadership, the FCC has taken significant steps towards eliminating the digital divide, increasing support for telehealth services and enhancing the security of America’s communications networks. I have enjoyed working with chairwoman Rosenworcel over the past 12 months on a series of initiatives that have delivered results for the American people. I look forward to continuing this good work.”
“I congratulate my colleague chairwoman Rosenworcel on her confirmation to another five year term to serve on the FCC," said commissioner Nathan Simington, also a Republican. “Chairwoman Rosenworcel has ably led the Commission for the past year, and during that time we have achieved a number of significant, bipartisan objectives in the public interest. It is my hope and expectation that we will continue this vital work together in the years to come.”
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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.