President Biden has nominated Jessica Rosenworcel as chairwoman of the Federal Communications Commission, the White House said Tuesday.
He is also tapping Gigi Sohn, a Net Neutrality advocate who co-founded the non-profit advocacy group Public Knowledge, as an FCC commissioner.
Rosenworcel has been working as acting FCC chair since January. She has been a Democratic commissioner at the agency since 2012. Sohn, meanwhile, previously worked at the FCC in a senior staff role under chairman Tom Wheeler during the Obama administration. The White House says that if confirmed, Sohn “would be the first openly LGBTIQ+ Commissioner in the history of the FCC.”
The FCC currently has four commissioners, comprised of two Democrats (Rosenworcel and Geoffrey Starks) and two Republicans (Brendan Carr and Nathan Simington). If both Rosenworcel and Sohn are confirmed by the U.S. Senate, it would give the FCC a Democratic majority, making it easier to pass certain rules and regulations, including potential efforts to restore Net Neutrality. Many Democratic priorities at the FCC have been on hold for now, due to the 2-2 makeup of the Commission.
However, there is a race against the clock. Rosenworcel’s term lapsed last year, meaning she has to step down at the end of 2021 unless she is confirmed by the Senate before then. If neither Rosenworcel or Sohn are confirmed, then the FCC would have a 2-1 Republican majority until the open seats are filled.
“NAB congratulates Jessica Rosenworcel on her nomination as chairwoman of the Federal Communications Commission,” said National Association of Broadcasters CEO Gordon Smith in a statement. “As the first woman nominated as permanent chair, this marks a significant milestone at the Commission and a fitting progression in her long and distinguished career in public service. NAB also extends congratulations to Gigi Sohn on her nomination to the Commission. We look forward to working with the full Commission on how the FCC can ensure a thriving local broadcast industry.”