Retiring FCC chairman trades shots with GOP senator

Retiring FCC chairman trades shots with GOP senator
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Outgoing Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chairman Tom Wheeler and Sen. Ron JohnsonRonald (Ron) Harold JohnsonSenate Dems hold floor talk-a-thon against latest ObamaCare repeal bill Sen. Cassidy plans to bring down Medicaid Senate committee schedules hearing on health care block grants MORE (R-Wis.) traded barbs Thursday in the wake of Wheeler’s announcement that he would step down.
 
During the last FCC open meeting of 2016, Wheeler said he had made clear his intentions to depart from the agency after the Obama administration ends.
 
“This is in keeping with the commitments I have made since March that I would cooperate with the new administration to ensure a smooth transition,” he said.
 
Wheeler, a Democrat, said Senate Republicans ignored his offer to step down in exchange for the reconfirmation of FCC Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel, also a Democrat.
 
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And he particularly singled out Johnson, saying the senator made it “pretty clear” that he wanted to create a 2-1 GOP majority in the FCC.
 
Johnson disputed Wheeler's words in a statement to The Hill. 
 
“[Stepping down] is a commitment he should have made long ago, but better late than never,” Johnson said. “I look forward to working with the new FCC on rolling back harmful, partisan regulations that choke investment and innovation in the communications sector.”
 
Wheeler did not publicly announce his departure date from the FCC until Thursday, and over the past several months, he and his office repeatedly declined to comment on the record to reporters as to when he would leave the FCC. 
 
He was expected to step down as the White House administration changed, but he had the option to stay on until 2018, when his term is set to expire.
 
Wheeler, who was appointed in 2013 by President Obama, earlier Thursday said he would step down on Jan. 20.
 
The Senate failed to confirm Rosenworcel last weekend, leaving the panel with two Republicans and one Democrat until new commissioners are confirmed. With GOP control of the White House and Senate, Republicans will have the ability to further tilt the commission’s balance in their favor.
 
Wheeler also sidestepped a question regarding the likelihood that his legacy on controversial FCC items like net neutrality would be overturned in a Republican-majority commission. 
 
He rejected Rep. Marsha BlackburnMarsha BlackburnCorker pressed as reelection challenges mount GOP braces for Bannon primary attacks Air Force One is Trump’s new boardroom MORE’s (R-Tenn.) comments that FCC regulations needed bipartisan support to avoid being overturned in future administrations. The incoming Trump administration is likely to take aim at the FCC’s net neutrality decision on that basis.
 
“A majority is a majority. The majority can vote their mind,” Wheeler said. 
 
“I’m fond of remembering that there was a one-vote majority that elected the president of the U.S. It’s hard to reach a compromise with people who say no at the outset.”