Grassley lifts holds on two FCC nominees

Sen. Chuck GrassleyCharles (Chuck) Ernest GrassleyGrassley won't attend GOP convention amid coronavirus uptick Meadows teases Trump action on immigration, China, prescription drugs Trump second-term plans remain a mystery to GOP MORE (R-Iowa) on Friday released holds he had placed on two nominees to the Federal Communications Commission.

Grassley had placed the holds on Republican Ajit Pai and Democrat Jessica Rosenworcel months ago and had demanded FCC documents on the agency's decision to grant a waiver to LightSquared, the politically connected telecommunications firm that wanted to set up a new 4G wireless network. 

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Grassley has suggested earlier this week that he might lift the holds after the FCC released a slew of documents at the request of Sen. Jay RockefellerJohn (Jay) Davison RockefellerBottom Line World Health Day: It's time to fight preventable disease Lobbying World MORE (D-W.Va.).

Though he agreed to release the holds, Grassley issued a statement lambasting the FCC for a lack of transparency.

The statement accused the agency of stonewalling Grassley for months, though the senator said documents eventually became more useful. 

“At first, the documents were evasively superficial," he said. "The submissions contained thousands of pages of already public information, including news clips. The FCC played games to inflate its page count, which is not the mark of a responsive agency. Gradually, the document submissions began to include some substantive information."

Grassley said the documents he's seen so far raise more questions, but he expressed satisfaction with the process now in place to obtain relevant FCC documents. 

As a result, he said, he intended to lift his holds on the two nominees. 

"But my inquiry is not over. I'm told there are 11,000 more pages of documents from the FCC on LightSquared that will be forthcoming to the House Energy and Commerce Committee," he said. "I look forward to receiving access to those documents."

Senate aides said last week that Republicans were starting to put pressure on Grassley to release the holds. Grassley's office said the senator enjoyed the support of his colleagues.

An FCC spokesperson told The Hill, "[w]e are pleased this roadblock to the confirmation of two outstanding nominees appears to have been removed."

Senate Commerce Committee Chairman Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.), who told The Hill he had personally called the FCC chief of staff to request that more documents be sent for Grassley's review, said he is pleased "the unreasonable hold against two qualified and smart FCC nominees" has been lifted.

Rockefeller thanked Minority Leader McConnell (R-Ky.) and Majority Leader Harry ReidHarry Mason ReidMcConnell warns Democrats not to change filibuster rule Filibuster reform gains steam with Democrats The Hill's Morning Report - Trump wants executive order on policing; silent on pending bills MORE (D-Nev.) for "working cooperatively to advance these nominations in the face of stubborn delay tactics."

Rockefeller said the "bipartisan cooperation" the releases required "bodes well for the success of Rosenworcel and Pai," adding that "[t]hey are each ready to do this tough job."

"I am anxious for the full Senate to vote on their nominations in May," he said.