Tech

Senate Confirms Trump’s Pick For FCC Chairman

REUTERS/Aaron P. Bernstein

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Eric Lieberman Deputy Editor

The Senate reconfirmed Ajit Pai as the chairman of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Monday in a 52 to 41 vote.

“I am deeply grateful to the U.S. Senate for confirming my nomination to serve a second term at the FCC and to President Trump for submitting that nomination to the Senate,” Pai said in a statement obtained by The Daily Caller News Foundation. “Since January, the Commission has focused on bridging the digital divide, promoting innovation, protecting consumers and public safety, and making the FCC more open and transparent. With today’s vote, I look forward to continuing to work with my colleagues to advance these critical priorities in the time to come.”

Pai’s five-year term, which started in 2012 at the recommendation of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, technically expired months ago. But as is typical agency protocol, he was allowed to stay on for the remainder of the year. President Donald Trump nominated and promoted Pai early in January during one of his first moves, after former FCC Chairman Thomas Wheeler stepped down while the President Barack Obama administration departed the White House. (RELATED: EXCLUSIVE: Emails Show Obama-Era FCC Gave Special Treatment To Liberal Groups)

The vote to reconfirm came after McConnell filed cloture on the nomination last week, an apparent attempt to bypass an expected lengthy and tense debate. Invoking cloture imposes a maximum of 30 hours for the procedure, which includes discourse but also other actions like roll call votes and quorum calls. There was some debate and backlash from Democrats, however, before the respective votes for cloture and reconfirmation. But like reconfirmation, the cloture vote ultimately passed (55-41), with six Democrats voting in favor of moving forward.

“Chairman Pai has led a very fascinating life, one punctuated by hard work and success,” McConnell said in a speech on the Senate floor prior to the cloture vote. “When President Obama nominated Pai to serve as an FCC Commissioner in 2011, the Senate confirmed him by voice vote. When the Senate considers his nomination again today, I hope Senators will come together to give him strong support one more time.”

Many Democrats wanted to limit his tenure because of Pai’s opposition to internet regulations imposed by the Obama-administration’s FCC in the name of net neutrality. Democrat Sen. Bill Nelson of Florida’s office told TheDCNF that he was opposed to Pai’s reconfirmation. (RELATED: Activists Are Teaming Up With Big Tech For Net Neutrality Protests)

Many Republicans expressed disagreement with their Democratic counterparts last week.

“Chairman Pai has shown a real commitment to closing the digital divide in states like West Virginia, something that is a top priority for Senator Capito,” a spokesman for Republican Sen. Shelley Moore Capito of West Virginia told TheDCNF. “She plans to support his reconfirmation and looks forward to continuing to work together to expand rural broadband access and better connect communities in West Virginia and across the country.”

“Chairman Pai, a native of Parsons, Kan., is an excellent candidate with a demonstrated history of service and leadership, and his nomination should be considered in a timely fashion,” said Republican Sen. Jerry Moran of Kansas.

Republican Sen. Mike Lee of Utah’s office also told TheDCNF that the congressman also supports Pai’s reconfirmation.

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