WASHINGTON — Democratic Federal Communications Commission Chairman Tom Wheeler announced Thursday he will exit the agency Jan. 20, the day Donald Trump’s new administration begins.
“Serving as F.C.C. Chairman during this period of historic technological change has been the greatest honor of my professional life. I am deeply grateful to the President for giving me this opportunity. I am especially thankful to the talented Commission staff for their service and sacrifice during my tenure,” Wheeler said in a statement.
“Their achievements have contributed to a thriving communications sector, where robust investment and world-leading innovation continue to drive our economy and meaningful improvements in the lives of the American people. It has been a privilege to work with my fellow Commissioners to help protect consumers, strengthen public safety and cybersecurity, and ensure fast, fair and open networks for all Americans.”
As a result of Wheeler’s absence at the beginning of Trump’s first term, the commission gives Republicans a 2-1 majority and Trump will be able to peel back a number of Obama era FCC regulations, including the net neutrality rules, which Republicans rallied against in 2015.
Wheeler had been quiet for several months over whether he would step down from his post, which originally expired in 2018, causing Republicans to hold up fellow FCC Democratic Commissioner’s Jessica Rosenworcel confirmation for a new term. Ultimately, Rosenworcel was not reconfirmed by the Senate and will depart the commission on Jan. 3.