Gigi Sohn, an FCC nominee speaking at her confirmation hearing in December.

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‘The time for these votes is now’: Public interest groups urge the Senate to confirm Gigi Sohn for the FCC

Sohn's confirmation would finally give the FCC a 3-2 Democratic majority.

 

Andrew Wyrich

Tech

Posted on Jan 11, 2022   Updated on Jan 12, 2022, 10:05 am CST

A coalition of public interest groups are calling on the Senate to confirm Gigi Sohn, President Joe Biden’s pick to fill out the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), as quickly as possible.

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In a release on Tuesday, several prominent groups said confirming Sohn swiftly was essential for the FCC to begin tackling numerous issues like restoring net neutrality rules, the agency’s authority over the broadband industry, addressing broadband affordability, and more.

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The groups included the Benton Institute for Broadband & Society, Demand Progress, Electronic Frontier Foundation, Fight for the Future, Free Press Action, MediaJustice, Open Technology Institute, Public Knowledge, and United Church of Christ Media Justice Ministry.

Biden waited a historically long time to announce his nominees for the FCC, which is currently in a 2-2 partisan deadlock. In October, he nominated Sohn to fill the fifth and final seat at the FCC. If confirmed, she would give the FCC a 3-2 Democratic majority.

Sohn, who has drawn rave reviews from public interest groups and experts and has long been an advocate for net neutrality, had a confirmation hearing last month before the Senate Commerce Committee. During the hearing, she faced some pushback from Republican lawmakers.

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Despite having the hearing, the committee never voted on her nomination. If she is voted favorably out of the committee, she would then face a full vote in the Senate.

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Because the Senate didn’t vote before the end of last year, Biden re-nominated her last week.

“For more than a year, the FCC has been operating without a full slate of commissioners, hampering its ability to advance all of the important tasks on its agenda,” the groups wrote in a release on Tuesday. “This is why 350,000 people and counting have taken action in the past year by calling on the White House and Senate to act to get all commissioners confirmed, and more than 100,000 people across the country have weighed in specifically to support Ms. Sohn’s confirmation since she was first nominated in October.”

In the release, the groups highlighted net neutrality, broadband affordability, ISPs discriminatory broadband deployment, and working on the agency’s universal service programs as some of the reasons a fully staffed agency was necessary.

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“All of these proceedings need a fully functioning FCC, which means Ms. Sohn needs to be voted out of the Committee this month and moved to the full Senate for a floor vote. The time for these votes is now,” the groups wrote.

Over the past several days, numerous groups have individually called on the Senate to vote on Sohn’s nomination. The Commerce Committee has not yet announced when a vote is scheduled.


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*First Published: Jan 11, 2022, 3:58 pm CST