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After nearly a year as Joe Biden’s presidency, there is renewed pressure on the Senate to quickly confirm appointments to two of the top federal government agencies controlling broadband and data privacy.

In new statements released Monday, public interest groups Free Press Action and Fight for the Future called on the Senate Trade Committee to fill the last seats on the Federal Communications Commission and Federal Trade Commission. Gigi Sohn and Alvaro Bedoya, for the FCC and FTC, respectively, have completed their confirmation hearing processes, but neither of the two nominations received a final committee vote to prepare them for confirmation.

“Americans desperately need these consumer protection agencies as their dependence on affordable open Internet access has grown during the pandemic,” Fight for the Future said in a statement Monday. “Industry insiders have openly admitted that they are pushing for these delays because it benefits their bottom line, to the detriment of the public.”

With open seats in these agencies, the FCC and FTC are unable to advance partisan measures or Democratic political priorities, such as net neutrality. At the end of last year, Jessica Rosenworcel was confirmed president of the FCC, but no vote was scheduled for Sohn, with Biden being chosen as the last remaining Democratic commissioner. Democratic FTC Commissioner Rohit Chopra resigned from the agency after being confirmed as head of the Consumer Finance Protection Bureau in October, leaving the FTC at a 2-2 deadlock.

Biden reappointed Sohn and Bedoya on January 4, preparing the nominations for further consideration by the Senate Trade Committee. According to Politics On Monday, the committee plans to vote on the candidates on January 24, and the markup may include Sohn and Bedoya, but the final agenda has not been released at the time of publication.

“There is no time to waste and so much to do at the FCC: making sure the billions invested in broadband actually reach those who need it most, restoring Net neutrality and the Title II, heed the history of media regulators on race and undo the damage of the Trump years, ”Craig Aaron, co-CEO of Free Press Action, said in a statement on Monday.

While the FCC and FTC nominations saw some movement in the Senate last year, Republicans like Senator Lindsey Graham and The Wall Street Journal editorial board argued that Sohn was an extremist in telecommunications policy.

“Gigi Sohn is a complete political ideologue who has contempt for conservatives. It would be a real nightmare for the country when it comes to regulating public airwaves, ”Graham said. in a tweet thread last November. “I will do everything in my power to convince my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to reject this extreme candidate.”

As long as all Senate Democrats, including Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV), vote for both Sohn and Bedoya, no Republican support would be needed to confirm them.




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