| 3 December 2023, Sunday |

Biden to nominate Democrat for key seat on US telecom regulator

After Democrats have been prevented since 2021 from obtaining a majority on the five-member telecoms regulator, sources told Reuters that President Joe Biden would reveal his plans to propose attorney Anna Gomez for a crucial fifth seat on the U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) on Monday.

Gomez, a Democrat and telecommunications lawyer, is currently the senior adviser for the Bureau of Cyberspace and Digital Policy of the State Department and is in charge of US preparations for the World Radio Conference in 2023.

Biden also plans to renominate for new five-year terms Democratic commissioner Geoffrey Starks and Republican commissioner Brendan Carr, the sources said, speaking on condition of anonymity. Without Senate action, Starks would need to leave in January and Carr in January 2025.

Since January 2021, the FCC has been deadlocked 2-2, stalling Democrats’ efforts to reinstate landmark net neutrality rules revoked under Republican then-President Donald Trump. The open internet laws seek to bar 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 net neutrality rules adopted under then- President Barack Obama in 2015.

Biden’s first nominee for the open seat, Gigi Sohn, a former FCC official, withdrew in March after three hearings. She blamed industry opponents for scuttling her nomination.

Democrats hold a narrow 51-49 majority in the Senate. Gomez may have an easier time getting confirmed than Sohn, who faced strong Republican opposition and saw her unsuccessful nomination await a vote for more than 16 months.

Gomez previously served as deputy administrator of the Commerce Department’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration from 2009 to 2013 and served for 12 years in various positions at the FCC. She also was a government affairs executive at then-Sprint Nextel and a partner at Wiley Rein LLP, a Washington law firm, heading its media and technology group.

One big issue at the FCC remains China.

The FCC has raised mounting concerns about Chinese telecom companies which had won permission to operate in the United States decades ago. In 2019, the FCC voted to deny state-owned Chinese telecom firm China Mobile Ltd (0941.HK) the right to provide U.S. services and later withdrew U.S. authorizations for several other Chinese telecom carriers, including China Telecom Corp.

  • Reuters