- 29 июня, 04:21
- POLITICO. Top Stories
The gang's getting back together at the FCC.
President Donald Trump's move to tap Federal Communications Commission General Counsel Brendan Carr for the commission's open GOP slot is another sign that the agency's big players under Trump will look a lot like they did under President Barack Obama.
Carr is a familiar face at the FCC, having worked as an aide to Chairman Ajit Pai when he was a commissioner during the Obama years. Trump recently nominated Jessica Rosenworcel, a veteran of the Obama FCC, to fill the agency's open Democratic seat. And the remaining two commissioners — Republican Mike O’Rielly and Democrat Mignon Clyburn — are also Obama-era holdovers.
The gathering of old hands won't necessarily change the trajectory of the now-Republican FCC, which is chipping away at a slew of Obama-era regulations, including the net neutrality rules. But the returning veterans have in-the-weeds experience and won't have a learning curve as they tackle a range of wonky and controversial topics.
"They’re heading into a very difficult period," said Republican telecom industry consultant Justin Lilley. "Net neutrality is going to be very contentious and very high profile. They’re very serious about getting the best people in these agency jobs."
As the newest potential member of the club, Carr already knows the ins and outs of the agency. He’s the FCC's top lawyer and worked in Pai’s office for three years, advising the then-commissioner on wireless, public safety and international issues.
As general counsel, Carr has been on the front lines defending Pai’s policy shifts. Carr had to explain to Hill Democrats why the FCC abandoned its legal defense of some of the agency’s reforms to the prison phone industry. His legal team also asked a federal appeals court to drop a review of Obama-era changes to the Lifeline telecom subsidy program because the new Republican majority at the FCC wants to make revisions of its own.
Carr’s in-depth regulatory knowledge, plus his backing from Pai, is likely what set him apart from the other contenders for the GOP slot, sources have said. The agency will be under siege as Pai moves forward with his proposal to roll back the FCC’s net neutrality roles, and Carr is seen as a strong ally for the Republican chairman.
"Brendan has a distinguished record of public service, having worked at the agency for over five years, including most recently as the FCC’s General Counsel," Pai said in a statement released immediately after the White House announcement. "In particular, Brendan’s expertise on wireless policy and public safety will be a tremendous asset to the Commission."
Rosenworcel will also bring plenty of FCC and telecom policy experience when she rejoins the agency. She voted for and is a strong supporter of the 2015 net neutrality rules, which require internet service providers like Comcast and Verizon to treat all web traffic equally. She's also known for her expertise on spectrum policy generally, and is a champion of unlicensed spectrum — which is used for Wi-Fi and other services.
Rosenworcel, a former Senate aide, coined the term "homework gap" to refer to a lack of internet access at home for schoolchildren. She backed a major reform to the FCC’s broadband subsidy program for schools and libraries.
Pai’s net neutrality proposal would weaken the agency’s authority over ISPs, and he’s also criticized changes the FCC's previous Democratic majority made to the school broadband funding program, E-rate.
Senate Commerce Chairman John Thune has said he would like the Senate to process the nomination for the third GOP FCC commissioner along with Rosenworcel and Pai, who requires a reconfirmation vote this year. Democrats have pressed for a formal renomination hearing for Pai, and the Commerce panel could hold a hearing for all three nominees at the same time.