Skip to main content

White House Nominates Two New FCC Commissioners

The White House has nominated Jessica Rosenworcel and Ajit Pai to be the next commissioners on the Federal Communications Commission.

Filling one Republican vacancy and one Democratic vacancy-to-be won't change the balance of the commission, which will go from a 3-1 Democratic majority to a 3-2 majority.

Rosenworcel, Senate Commerce senior communications counsel, and Pai, a former top FCC adviser, had been the leading candidates for the empty FCC seat vacated by Republican Meredith Attwell Baker (Pai) and the vacancy that will be created by the departure at year's end of Commissioner Michael Copps.

Rosenworcel will be succeeding her old boss. She was a legal advisor on competition and Universal Service and then senior legal advisor to Copps before exiting in March 2007 to join the powerful Senate Commerce Committee as a top communications advisor to Committee Chairman Jay Rockefeller (D-W. Va.). Before advising Copps, she was a staffer, including legal counsel to the bureau chief of the Common Carrier bureau, so she is well versed in the broadband and Universal Service reform issues the FCC is currently focused on.

"The President's nominations today hold the promise of achieving a full five-member Commission before the year is out. I congratulate both nominees," said Copps.

"I know first-hand what a gifted public servant Jessica Rosenworcel is because she worked in my office in a number of capacities, including senior Legal Adviser. Her experience here, combined with her current Congressional work, give her a perspective on telecom and media issues both wide and deep. Her dedication, intelligence, and practical good judgment make her an ideal choice for Commissioner. As I look forward to completing my term here at the Commission, it is with great pride that I see a former colleague and member of my team nominated for this seat."

Copps continued: "I have also had the pleasure of working with Ajit Pai while he served in the Commission's Office of General Counsel. During that time, he provided valuable counsel on many of the complex matters coming before the Commission. Ajit's experience, both at the agency and on Capitol Hill, prepares him well for the many urgent telecom and media challenges confronting the Commission."

Before joining the FCC in 1999, Rosenworcel was with Law firm Drinker Biddle. Rosenworcel is a 1997 graduate of of New York University Law School.

Pai joined law firm Jenner & Block in April 2011 from the FCC where, since 2007, he had been Deputy General Counsel, Associate General Counsel, and Special Advisor to the General Counsel.

Before joining the FCC in 2007 under then Chairman Kevin Martin, Pai's resume included deputy chief counsel to the Senate Judiciary Committee's Subcommittee on Administrative Oversight and the Courts (2003-2004) and senior counsel in the Justice Department's Office of Legal Policy. Between 2005 and 2007, Pai was chief counsel to the Senate Judiciary Committee's Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights, and Property Rights, including lead counsel on Supreme Court nominations. He was associate general counsel at Verizon from 2001 to 2003.

Pai was a candidate for the Republican seat in 2009, which ultimately went to Baker. Her exit last summer for Comcast -- she actually didn't join the company until last month -- opened the door for Pai once again.

As the picks of Republican Mitch McConnell (R.-Ky.) and Rockefeller, the pair had been expected to be paired and submittted for Senate consideration by the end of the year.

By a custom began under President Bill Clinton, the president usually accepts the recommendations of leading Democratic and Republican legislators, in this case the chair of the Commerce Committee, which oversees the FCC, and the Senate minority leader.

"I am confident that these outstanding men and women will greatly serve the American people in their new roles and I look forward to working with them in the months and years ahead," said the President in a statement.

"I welcome President Obama's nominations...and look forward to returning to a five member Commission," said FCC Commissioner Robert McDowell.
"I had the pleasure of working with Jessica when she served in the Office of Commissioner Mike Copps and recently while she worked for the Senate Commerce Committee. She is a tireless public servant who, if confirmed, will be an asset to our discussions at the FCC," he said.
"Ajit, if confirmed, will bring a wealth of experience from both the public and private sectors as well as a deep understanding of the issues that come before the commission."