Biden expected to name 2 FCC picks in race to avert Republican majority

But the decisions come relatively late in Biden’s tenure: Of its predecessors, only Jimmy Carter and Richard Nixon waited in September of their first year to take over their FCC chairmanship. And if the Senate doesn’t approve Rosenworcel and Son by the end of December, the Republicans will get a 2-1 majority in the commission in January.

Biden is also expected to appoint longtime tech attorney Alan Davidson as head of the Department of Commerce’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration, a key role in setting executive policy on issues such as radio spectrum usage and 5G, the people said.

Key context: The expected White House endorsement of Rosenworcel is likely to add momentum to their efforts to fill the digital “homework gap” and to continue expanding broadband with new funding programs created during the pandemic.

A reference to progressives: Biden’s choice of Sohn for the Democratic open seat would be the latest prominent gesture towards progressives. Previously, he had entrusted antitrust attorney Lina Khan to lead the Federal Trade Commission and hired anti-monopoly Tim Wu for a senior economic advisory role in the White House.

Son campaigned for a solid defense of net neutrality during the Obama years and was a top advisor to former FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler. She was previously co-founder and head of the left-wing Washington advocacy group Public Knowledge.

Rosenworcel and Son have previously disagreed on a number of key battles, despite sharing many political views. One of the causes of Sohn’s Obama era was a controversial attempt to open the cable set-top box market to more competition. Rosenworcel, who opposed this plan, used their tie vote on the commission to step up efforts.

Recent Rosenworcel supporters include education and security groups, as well as union members and lawmakers such as Sens. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) And Ben Ray Luján (DN.M.) and Reps. Grace Meng (DN.Y.) and Anna Eshoo (D-California). In September, 25 members of the Senate’s Democratic parliamentary group said Biden should vote for Rosenworcel so as not to jeopardize the success of his broadband expansion ambitions.

Now the clock starts: The confirmation of these nominees would mean a mad blow to the Senate’s democratic leadership in the next two months.

While Rosenworcel can assume the permanent chairmanship immediately, her term in the FCC expired in 2020, which means she will have to resign at the end of this year unless the Senate approves her for a new five-year term.

Republicans would likely use the verification process to prevent a revival of net neutrality. They argue that the GOP’s repeal of the directive in 2017 did not lead to any of the horror stories warned by net neutrality advocates, such as ISPs manipulating or blocking their customers’ internet traffic.

And the telecommunications manager in the Ministry of Commerce: For the NTIA role, those familiar with the decisions said Biden selected Davidson – a seasoned tech attorney who has been with Mozilla, the company that launched the Firefox browser, since 2018. There, Davidson helped deal with data protection and the company’s open internet portfolio.

He also spent years in other top tech positions – including at Google, whose former CEO Eric Schmidt is a strong Biden fan and is involved in a variety of tech topics from 5G to artificial intelligence. He was the first Google envoy to Washington, opening his DC office in 2005 and serving the title of public policy director for half a dozen years, including lobbying for the search giant.

NTIA is likely to play a central role in shaping Biden’s broadband connectivity and 5G wireless technology agenda, including security issues affecting Chinese telecommunications giant Huawei, as well as technical issues such as data protection. According to the bipartisan infrastructure plan passed by the Senate in August, the Department of Commerce should also award $ 42 billion in grants to states to help expand broadband infrastructure.

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