President Biden will nominate acting Federal Communications Commission chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel as the first woman to lead the agency on a permanent basis, and also choose net neutrality advocate Gigi Sohn for an open seat on the commission, Politico and The New York Times report. The nominations could be announced as early as Tuesday. The FCC is currently deadlocked, with two Republican commissioners and two Democrats.
Rosenworcel, a commissioner since 2011, has been handling the deadlocked commission by focusing on politically noncontroversial initiatives, like fighting robocalls and weatherproofing wireless networks, the Times reports. A 3-2 Democratic majority would allow the commission to restore net neutrality rules enacted under former President Barack Obama and rolled back under former President Donald Trump, among other broadband policies important to the Biden administration.
But Biden has taken an unusually long time to nominate his FCC picks, and the clock is running out. Rosenworcel's term lapsed in 2020, and unless the Senate confirms her and Sohn to five year terms by the end of December, Politico notes, she's out and "Republicans are poised to gain a 2-1 majority on the commission come January." Senate confirmation is a "process plagued by delays and political gamesmanship," the Times adds, and Republicans have no incentives to make it easy.
"Rosenworcel, 50, campaigned vigorously for the permanent job, with female members of Congress, five labor unions, 14 human rights groups, and two dozen Senate Democrats" lobbying Biden to nominate her, the Times reports. Sohn is a former FCC official and top adviser to Obama-era FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler.
Biden is also poised to nominate established tech lawyer Alan Davidson to lead the Commerce Department's National Telecommunications and Information Administration, Politico reports, giving him a top role in shaping Biden's agenda on broadband connectivity and 5G wireless technology.