Biden to name permanent FCC director, which could result in GOP majority on internet content agency

In appointing Jessica Rosenworcel chairperson, Biden appears poised to try to restore net neutrality regs remove under President Trump

Updated: October 26, 2021 - 8:29am

President Biden is expected as early as Tuesday to name acting Federal Communications Commission Chairperson Jessica Rosenworcel to the role permanently. 

When Rosenworcel became acting commissioner, she vacated a Democratic-held seat on the agency's five-member commission, whose makeup is now two Democrats, two Republicans and one vacancy – leading to frequent partisan stalemates.

Biden is also expected to nominate Gigi Sohn, a progressive former FCC official and net neutrality advocate to the commission.

If Sohn and Rosenworcel do not get Senate confirmation by December, Republicans stand to gain a 2-1 majority on the commission at the beginning of the new year.

At the top of the Biden-FCC agenda is restoring net neutrality rules, initially adopted during the Obama administration and rolled back under President  Trump. The rules, Democrats argue, promote competition by preventing internet providers from blocking some content and/or slowing its delivery and letting consumers pay increased fees for its faster delivery.

The confirmation process for Rosenworcel and Sohn would also likely give Republicans the opportunity to pan the potential revival of net neutrality. GOP members have argued that exactly zero of the nightmare scenarios sketched out by net neutrality advocates came to fruition following the Trump-era repeal of the policy in 2017.

Rosenworcel's confirmation would make the first female to lead the agency. Since the FCC's establishment, just two presidents have waited this long into their term to nominate a chairperson.

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