The US Senate today gave Federal Communications Commission - Life with ideas The US Senate today gave Federal Communications Commission - Life with ideas

The US Senate today gave Federal Communications Commission

Admin Oct 03,2017

The US Senate today gave Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai another term on the FCC.

Pai would have had to leave the FCC at the end of 2017 if the Senate hadn’t approved President Donald Trump’s request to give Pai a new term. Pai, who has proposed deregulating broadband providers and eliminating net neutrality rules, received a new five-year term retroactive to July 1, 2016.

The vote split mostly along party lines, with Republicans supporting Pai’s re-nomination and most Democrats in opposition. The tally was 52-41, as not all 100 senators voted. You can see how each senator voted at this Senate webpage.

Pai received yea votes from 48 Republicans and four Democrats. The four Democratic senators who helped Pai gain re-confirmation were Joseph Manchin (D-W.V.); Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.); Gary Peters (D-Mich.); and Jon Tester (D-Mont.). All 41 nay votes came from the Democratic caucus.

Pai’s re-nomination had drawn a “fire FCC Chairman Ajit Pai” petition from consumer advocacy group Free Press, as well as opposition from Democrats during debate on the Senate floor last week.

Today’s Senate vote likely ensures that Pai will remain the FCC chairman until at least the end of Trump’s current four-year term. While all five commissioners must be approved by the Senate, the president alone decides which of the five serves as chair.

Pai wouldn’t necessarily serve his entire term through 2021 because chairs generally leave the commission when the presidency changes from one party to another. Pai’s first term on the FCC technically expired in June 2016, but the FCC’s rules allowed him to stay until the end of 2017 regardless of the status of his re-nomination.

“I am deeply grateful to the US 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 after today’s vote. “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 “chooses corporate interests over consumers”

Nelson blasted Pai for making it harder for low-income Americans to buy subsidized broadband with changes to the Lifeline program; for limiting the amount of information broadband subscribers receive about fees and data caps; for supporting the rollback of consumer broadband privacy protections, and for several other policies.

Pai has “acted as if the way to improve broadband in rural America is to lower standards and saddle our most remote communities with slower speed and worse service,” Nelson said. With his proposal to eliminate net neutrality rules, Pai wants to revoke “essential consumer protections on the Internet,” he said.

“At every turn, Chairman Pai chooses corporate interests over consumers,” Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) said, according to Broadcasting & Cable. Under Pai, the FCC stands for “Forgetting Consumers and Competition,” Markey said.

Pai “has demonstrated a disdain to these important public interest principles that he’s supposed to be upholding,” Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.

Cantwell and others made Pai’s stance against net neutrality rules a key part of their arguments. The rules prevent ISPs from blocking or throttling lawful Internet content and prohibit providers from charging websites or other online services for “prioritization.”

Pai is “planning to blow up the level playing field that is so crucial to innovation and free speech online and that allows the startup trying to get out of the garage to become the next YouTube, Google, or eBay,” Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.)

Republican support saves the day for Pai

The Democrats never had a serious chance of blocking Pai’s re-nomination because Republicans have a 52-48 Senate majority, and some Democrats broke with the rest of the party by supporting Pai.

“Chairman Pai has already made much-needed reforms to improve the processes at the FCC and empower his fellow commissioners,” Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.), chair of the Commerce Committee, said during floor debate. “He has already shown a commitment to ensuring transparency and openness at the commission that gives me great confidence in the direction he will lead the agency.”

Today, Thune praised Pai for starting the rollback of net neutrality rules and said the best way to provide long-term protections for Internet users is for Congress to pass bipartisan legislation.

Pai is “an exemplary FCC Chairman who will fight for unserved and underserved Americans,” Sen. Roger Wicker (R-Miss.) said last week. “Mr. Pai has overseen the adoption of Mobility Fund Phase II rules supporting universal service. He has sought the advice of experts for the most effective broadband deployment, and he has encouraged the development of better networks, lower costs, and relief from regulatory burdens.”

Pai also received support from conservative think tanks and Verizon, which employed Pai as an associate general counsel from 2001 to 2003.

“Chairman Pai has demonstrated his commitment to the agency and fidelity to the law,” Verizon Senior VP Will Johnson said in a statement last week. “As Chairman, he’s moved to address the digital divide, respond to natural disasters, and maintain our country’s lead in wireless innovation. The chairman is clearly qualified, and we hope the Senate will soon confirm his renomination.”