In his State of the Union address before Congress Tuesday night, President Joe Biden touted his Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, saying it would help close America’s digital divide.
“These projects will put hundreds of thousands of people to work rebuilding our highways, bridges, railroads, tunnels, ports and airports, clean water, and high-speed internet across America,” Biden said in his speech.
“We’re making sure that every community has access to affordable, high-speed internet,” the president added. “No parent should have to drive to a McDonald’s parking lot so their kid can do their homework online.”
While Biden’s infrastructure bill—along with recent COVID-relief projects—have provided an unprecedented amount of money to improve the nation’s broadband difficulties, there’s just one problem: Biden’s Federal Communications Commission (FCC) pick still hasn’t been approved.
And in front of a packed congressional, including most of the senators needed to approve Gigi Sohn’s nomination to the FCC, mentions of Sohn or her stalled nomination were absent from Biden’s speech.
In text provided by the White House of Biden’s speech, the president makes no mention of Sohn or of the deadlocked FCC that is hamstrung in issuing the new funds approved by Congress.
In over two years since taking office, Biden has not had a fully staffed FCC and Sohn’s nomination languished, first dying in the Senate after the 2022 midterms. Since Biden renominated her, there’s been no additional movement.
As it stands, a deadlocked FCC, at 2-2, is less likely to be able to approve new broadband maps that will aid in the equal distribution of the funds. An FCC without a Democratic majority has also been unable to reinstate net neutrality or go after big telecom monopolies that are keeping internet prices high and services lagging.
Meaning that without a push from the president to approve Sohn on the biggest platform possible, his pledge rings hollow.