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As long time readers of web_crawlr know, the confirmation process for Gigi Sohn, President Joe Biden’s pick to be the fifth and final commissioner at the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), has been rife with delays, setbacks, smear campaigns, lobbying, and more.
Just last month I wrote about how the Senate had an opportunity to hold a vote for Sohn during the lame duck session of Congress between the midterm elections and the new year. To no one’s surprise, that didn’t happen.
That meant that Biden would have to re-nominate Sohn (just like he did last January). Biden announced the re-nomination earlier this week.
If confirmed, Sohn would have an immediate impact at the FCC.
Since Biden’s election, the agency has been stuck in a 2-2 partisan deadlock. Sohn would give Democrats a third vote, allowing for them to move ahead on a number of issues like restoring net neutrality rules, consumer protection, and more. (Our Contributing Writer Karl Bode went into it more in his story about the re-nomination earlier this week. Check it out here.)
With that procedural hurdle out of the way, advocacy groups are—once again—urging the Senate to quickly hold a vote on Sohn’s nomination.
“Gigi Sohn should already be at the FCC. Without her, the agency has been effectively kneecapped—unable to reverse the disastrous policies of the Trump administration, restore net neutrality, address privacy violations, and ensure affordable Internet access for all,” Evan Greer, the director of internet rights group Fight for the Future,said. “Enough is enough. The Senate must move swiftly to confirm Gigi Sohn so that the FCC can get back to work protecting people’s basic human rights and ensuring access to affordable, open Internet for all.”
Craig Aaron, the co-CEO of Free Press Action, added that the delays have “harmed millions” by hampering the agency from moving forward with issues that would require a party line vote.
“No other nominee in the FCC’s history has had to wait so long for a confirmation vote, and none have been better qualified to serve the needs of the public. But the Senate buckled to industry pressure and kept her in limbo for more than a year,” Aaron said, later adding: “Industry spent millions of dollars on astroturf groups to repeatedly misrepresent Sohn’s record in the media and on Capitol Hill. They’ve lied repeatedly about her record and principles—but their corrupt and dirty tricks aren’t working anymore. The new Senate has a renewed mandate to serve the public interest. It can start by confirming Sohn immediately.”
Why it matters
While it may be easy to be pessimistic about the Senate voting on Sohn’s nomination given the multitude of delays over the last year, Senate Democrats have an easier path to getting the needed votes in the wake of the 2022 midterm elections.
With victories from Sen. Rafael Warnock (D-Ga.) and John Fetterman (D-Penn.), the party has more votes that could finally push Sohn’s nomination over the finish line.