Wheeler, O'Rielly Confirmed

RELATED: Industry Weighs In On New FCC Members

The Senate wasted no time Tuesday night, confirming Tom Wheeler to be chairman of the FCC and Michael O'Rielly as the next Republican commissioner.

The vote came swiftly after Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) lifted his hold on the Wheeler nomination following a meeting Tuesday between the two.

“I congratulate Tom Wheeler and Mike O’Rielly on their Senate confirmation," said Senate Commerce Committee Chairman Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.). "Tom Wheeler will be a strong advocate for consumers and the public interest at a time when the FCC is facing decisions that will shape the future of our nation's telephone network and the wireless, broadband, and video industries. And Tom will be a partner in giving students access to the latest technology in their classrooms so they have the skills to compete and succeed in the 21st century workforce. I look forward to working with both Tom and Mike to harness the power of technology for every American, no matter where they live.”

Cruz announced that he had lifted the hold following a meeting on Oct. 29 with the nominee in which Wheeler said that imposing disclosure requirements on political adds absent a congressional directive was not a priority.

In our meeting this afternoon, Mr. Wheeler stated that he had heard the unambiguous message that trying to impose the requirements of the DISCLOSE Act, absent congressional action, would imperil the Commission's vital statutory responsibilities, and he explicitly stated that doing so was "not a priority." Based on those representations, I have lifted my hold on his nomination, and I look forward to working with him on the FCC to expand jobs and economic growth."

Cruz's announcement came a day after Majority Leader Harry Reed (D-Nev.) invoked cloture on the Wheeler nomination. A hold is essentially an informal signal that a senator will filibuster a nomination, so Reed was planning to hold a vote on Oct. 30 to cut off that debate. If he got the needed 60-vote supermajority, Reed could have proceeded to a floor vote after only a few hours of debate.

"I am humbled by the Senate's confirmation and I look forward to taking the oath of office in the coming days. I am deeply grateful to President Obama for his confidence in nominating me for this position," said Wheeler in a statement..

"Chairwoman Clyburn has led the Commission with dedication and vision for six months. We all owe Chairwoman Clyburn a huge thank you. The Chairwoman, along with Commissioners Rosenworcel and Pai and the FCC staff dealt with important issues that kept policy and the country moving forward.

"Congratulations to Commissioner O'Rielly for his Senate confirmation. We will be joining a dynamic and dedicated team at the FCC.

"What excites me about this new responsibility is how we are at a hinge moment of history; the Internet is the greatest communications revolution in the last 150 years. We must all dedicate ourselves to encouraging its growth, expanding what it enables, and assuring its users' rights are respected."

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.