Rosenworcel takes over as the acting head of the agency after former Chairman Aji Pai stepped down on Wednesday before Biden’s inauguration. Rosenworcel has long been seen as a top choice for Biden to head the agency.
“I am honored to be designated as the Acting Chairwoman of the Federal Communications Commission by President Biden,” Rosenworcel said in a statement released by the agency on Thursday afternoon. “I thank the president for the opportunity to lead an agency with such a vital mission and talented staff. It is a privilege to serve the American people and work on their behalf to expand the reach of communications opportunity in the digital age.”
Rosenworcel has been vocal in her support of net neutrality and has opposed the FCC’s controversial repeal. She has also endorsed congressional efforts to restore net neutrality rules—specifically the Save the Internet Act, which would essentially codify the FCC’s 2015 Open Internet Order.
It is expected that the Democrat-led FCC will seek to restore net neutrality rules.
Besides net neutrality, Rosenworcel has also been critical about how the FCC has described the breath of the digital divide, the gap between those who have and can afford high speed internet and those who cannot, in the country. In April last year she said the FCC’s annual broadband report “wildly understates the extent” of the digital divide in the U.S.
The FCC, which is composed of five commissioners, only has four at the moment. Senate Republicans rammed through the nomination of Nathan Simington, whose nomination was controversial for his connection to former President Donald Trump’s social media executive order, leaving the agency in a 2-2 partisan deadlock.
Current commissioners include Brendan Carr and Simington, both Republicans, and Geoffrey Starks and Rosenworcel, Democrats. Biden will be able to choose a Democratic commissioner to fill out the agency.
The goal of getting Simington nominated quickly, it appeared, was that Senate Republicans would be able to hold off on voting on a fifth member nominated to the FCC by Biden if they still controlled the Senate. However, after Democrats were able to sweep the Georgia Senate runoff elections, it gave them control of the Senate, meaning that Biden’s pick to fill out the agency will have a much easier path to confirmation.