WASHINGTON, July 6 (Reuters) – The US Senate Commerce Committee plans to vote next week on President Joe Biden’s nominee for a key fifth post on the US Federal Communications Commission (FCC).
Democrats have been stymied since 2021 from winning a majority in the five-member telecom regulator.
Anna Gomez, a Democratic telecommunications lawyer, currently serves as a senior advisor to the State Department’s Bureau of Cyberspace and Digital Policy, leading US preparations for the 2023 World Radio Conference. The committee plans to vote July 12 on Gomez and on the nominations for the new mandates for the two current Commissioners Brendan Carr and Geoffrey Starks.
Since January 2021, the FCC has been deadlocked 2-2, stalling efforts by Democrats to reinstate historic net neutrality rules revoked under then-Republican President Donald Trump. Open internet laws seek to prevent Internet service providers from blocking or slowing traffic or offering paid “fast lanes.”
In July 2021, Biden signed an executive order encouraging the FCC to reinstate the net neutrality rules adopted under then-Democrat President Barack Obama in 2015.
Biden’s first candidate for the open seat, former FCC official Gigi Sohn, withdrew in March after three hearings. He blamed industry naysayers for scuttled his nomination.
Democrats hold a narrow 51-49 majority in the Senate. Sohn faced strong Republican opposition and saw the unsuccessful nominee wait for him to wait for a vote for more than 16 months.
The FCC in April voted to propose new rules to periodically reevaluate existing permits for foreign-owned companies to provide telecommunications services in the United States.
The FCC has raised growing concerns about Chinese telecom companies that were granted permission to operate in the United States decades ago. In 2019, the FCC voted to deny state-owned Chinese telecom company China Mobile Ltd (0941.HK) the right to provide US services and subsequently withdrew US authorizations for several other Chinese telecom operators, including China Telecom Corp (0728.HK).
Reporting by David Shepardson
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