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Senate Poised to Approve 2 Key FCC Nominees

The Senate's approval would finally clear the way for two former agency staffers to move into top regulatory slots at the FCC

The U.S. Senate could approve long-pending nominations for a pair of FCC vacancies as early as Monday, finally clearing the way for two former agency staffers to move into top regulatory slots, individuals with knowledge of the situation told TheWrap.

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But the Senate’s approval assumes no additional efforts by GOP senators to block confirmation votes for the duo, Jessica Rosenworcel and Ajit Pai.

“The question is are there other Republican senators out there who, like Grassley, may be playing the hold game?” an individual with knowledge of the situation told TheWrap. “There’s no objection on the Democratic side.”

The nominations of the two veteran Washington insiders are back on track because Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, recently lifted a longtime hold on their confirmation votes.

Grassley had been preventing his Senate colleagues from voting on the two since late last year in an effort to pressure the FCC to release documents related to a controversial waiver to a wireless broadband service. The senator’s document-mining campaign, which has apparently finally dug up some choice nuggets, was totally unrelated to the two nominees or their qualifications to be commissioners.

Also read: At FCC, waiting for Genachowski

In an April 27 statement, Grassley said he opted to lift the hold, satisfied that “there is now a process in place to obtain all of the relevant documents from the FCC.”

Said Sen. John D. Rockefeller IV, D-W.V., chairman of the Senate Commerce Committee, in response: “I am glad that the unreasonable hold against two qualified and smart FCC nominees … has been lifted.”

Confirmation of the nominations by the Senate would bring the FCC back up to its full complement of five commissioners for the first time since last June, when former Republican Commissioner Meredith Attwell Baker left the agency to work for Comcast.

Rosenworcel is currently a Senate Commerce Committee staffer. Pai is a partner with the law firm Jenner & Block. Rosenworcel, a Democrat, had no comment, according to a spokesman for the Senate Commerce Committee. Pai, a Republican, could not be reached for comment.