Senate Confirms FCC Nominees After Holds Are Lifted

Senate Confirms FCC Nominees After Holds Are Lifted

Today the Senate confirmed the nominations of two new members of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), including a new chairman, after two Senators lifted their holds.

Thomas Wheeler was confirmed to be the new FCC chairman, filling a Democratic slot, while Michael O’Rielly was confirmed to fill a Republican slot.  With their confirmations, the FCC leadership is now back to full strength.   The FCC has five commissioners, three from the party of the President and two from the other party.

The Hill newspaper reports that the votes to confirm the nominations today were unanimous.

Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) was blocking Wheeler’s confirmation because he does not want the FCC to increase requirements to identify sponsors of political ads.  In a statement this afternoon, Cruz said that Wheeler conveyed that “he had heard the unambiguous message” that trying to impose such additional requirements required congressional action and was not a decision for the FCC to make unilaterally.

Separately, Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) vowed yesterday that he would block all nominations until the Obama Administration released more information about the survivors of the attack on the U.S. mission in Benghazi last year.   He allowed the vote today reportedly because the nominations predated his hold.

A single Senator can block the confirmation of any nominee by placing a hold on the nomination for any reason.

The FCC regulates use of the electromagnetic spectrum by the private sector, including for commercial communications satellites, as well as orbital slots for those satellites in geostationary orbit.

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