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Biden Picks Jessica Rosenworcel as Acting FCC Chairman

If she gets the job permanently, Rosenworcel would become the first female to lead the commission

President Joe Biden has designated Jessica Rosenworcel to be the acting chairman of the Federal Communications Commission. If she gets the job permanently, that would make her the first female to lead the 86-year-old regulatory body. She is the second woman to be named acting chair, following Mignon Clyburn.

“I am honored to be designated as the Acting Chairwoman of the Federal Communications Commission by President Biden,” Rosenworcel said. “I thank the President for the opportunity to lead an agency with such a vital mission and talented staff. It is a privilege to serve the American people and work on their behalf to expand the reach of communications opportunity in the digital age.”

Rosenworcel replaces outgoing chairman Ajit Pai, who resigned his post on Wednesday to coincide with Biden’s inauguration.

Rosenworcel, a Democrat, figures to be a polar opposite from Pai. For starters, she is a staunch supporter of net neutrality laws enacted during the Obama administration, which under Pai were controversially repealed in 2017.

Rosenworcel will preside over a deadlocked commission that features two Democrats and two Republicans, with Trump’s nominee Nathan Simington getting confirmed by Congress just before the outgoing president’s term expired. Biden will be able to pick the seat vacated by Pai, which will likely give the Democrats a 3-2 majority. The other current FCC commissioners are Democrat Geoffrey Starks and Republican Brendan Carr.

Rosenworcel has technically served two separate times on the commission. Her first was under Barack Obama from 2012-2017. Though Obama had renominated her in 2015, she was not confirmed by the Republican-controlled Senate, but was able to serve until 2017 (Commissioners are allowed to continue serving until the appointment of their replacements, but not beyond the end of the next session of Congress following the expiration of their term). Donald Trump then renominated her later in 2017, and she was confirmed.