Senate Dems Push for Rosenworcel Vote

Two ranking members of Senate committees, Sen. Bill Nelson (D-Fla.) of the Commerce Committee and Sen. Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii) of the Communications Subcommittee, Wednesday called again for a vote on the nomination of Democratic FCC commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel to a new term.

They were joined by Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.).

While the Commerce Committee unanimously recommended her for a new term, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has yet to schedule a floor vote.

During what proved to be a bipartisan vote on an FCC reauthorization bill, Schatz said that was a fly in that bipartisan ointment. He said the Senate needs to do its job, and Nelson echoed that.

He pointed out, as had Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid in a floor statement two weeks ago, that McConnell had promised a vote when Democrats agreed to vote out Republican Mike O'Rielly last year. In a tradition that dates back to the Clinton Administration, Republican congressional leaders essentially get to pick Republican commissioners and Democratic leaders the Democrats.

Markey said he had planned to put a hold on O'Rielly's nomination but got "complete" assurances from Reid, who had gotten assurances from McConnell, that Rosenworcel would get a vote. Here we are now in April and no vote, he said, adding that he never would have relinquished his hold without the assurances from Republicans. He called on them to expedite the process and give her the "honor" of  being reconfirmed.

Rosenworcel's term has already expired, but she can serve until December.

Republican Commerce Committee chairman John Thune (R-S.D.) said the committee had done its job by reporting her out favorably for a vote, and that it was now up to the two Senate leaders. "We have done our part at this level to move it forward," he said.

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.