Biden finally makes FCC picks: Rosenworcel as chair, Gigi Sohn as commissioner

FCC Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel smiling as she testifies in front of Congress during a 2019 hearing.

Enlarge / FCC Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel testifies before the House Energy and Commerce Committee’s Communications and Technology Subcommittee on December 05, 2019, in Washington, DC. (credit: Getty Images | Chip Somodevilla)

President Biden finally made his picks for the Federal Communications Commission today, ending a baffling delay that forced Democrats to operate in a 2-2 deadlock with Republicans instead of the 3-2 majority that the president’s party typically enjoys.

The names themselves are familiar. Jessica Rosenworcel, who has been acting FCC chairwoman since January, was today designated the permanent chair. Biden will also fill the empty Democratic slot on the commission by nominating Gigi Sohn, a longtime consumer advocate who was an FCC official during the Obama years. Then-FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler chose Sohn in 2013 to serve as his counselor, a role in which she advocated for strong net neutrality rules and Title II common-carrier regulation of Internet service providers.

Biden was able to promote Rosenworcel from acting to permanent chair immediately because the president can choose any sitting commissioner as chair. But Rosenworcel’s current five-year term already expired, and she would have to leave the FCC entirely in January if she doesn’t get a new term. That means Biden has to submit nominations to the Senate for both Rosenworcel and Sohn, and the Senate has to confirm them to avoid giving Republicans a 2-1 majority at the beginning of 2022.

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