Reid holds Thune bill up over FCC nomination

Reid holds Thune bill up over FCC nomination
© Cameron Lancaster

Senate Minority Leader Harry ReidHarry Mason ReidBottom line Voters need to feel the benefit, not just hear the message Schumer-McConnell dial down the debt ceiling drama MORE (D-Nev.) is holding up legislation backed by Senate Commerce Chairman John ThuneJohn Randolph ThuneHouse approves bill to ease passage of debt limit hike McConnell faces GOP pushback on debt deal McConnell 'confident' 10 GOP senators will back debt deal MORE (R-S.D.) in an escalating war over the re-nomination of a member of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC).

A spokesperson suggested the hold is linked to Republicans' unwillingness to confirm FCC Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel for a second term.

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“Sen. Reid continues to expect Chairman Thune and Sen. McConnell to keep their word and re-confirm Commissioner Rosenworcel,” said a spokesperson for the minority leader when asked about the hold.

The bill in question is aimed at encouraging the government to give up some of its valuable spectrum, the frequencies that carry signals to mobile devices such as smartphones, for use by the private sector. It’s not high-profile outside of tech policy circles, but is a priority for Thune and the committee’s staff.

Reid and other Democrats are frustrated that Republicans haven’t moved the nomination of Rosenworcel, a Democrat, to serve a second term on the commission. They say that when they approved the nomination of Republican Michael O’Rielly in 2013, they did so on the condition that Republicans would move a Democratic nominee.

Sens. Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzMcConnell faces GOP pushback on debt deal Democrats seek to avoid internal disputes over Russia and China GOP senators introduce bill targeting Palestinian 'martyr payments' MORE (R-Texas) and Mike LeeMichael (Mike) Shumway LeeSenate rejects attempt to block Biden's Saudi arms sale Overnight Defense & National Security — Lawmakers clinch deal on defense bill McConnell faces GOP pushback on debt deal MORE (R-Utah) both reportedly have holds on the nomination. Thune has said those holds could be loosened if FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler would commit to leaving at the same time as President Obama.

Though Thune told Politico he hoped the vote on the Rosenworcel nomination would occur before the end of the year, he said in a statement that the hold could hurt her re-nomination chances.

“Sen. [Bill] Nelson [D-Fla.] and I worked together this congress to build a bipartisan consensus to advance needed communication policy reforms and the Rosenworcel nomination through committee,” said Thune in a statement.

“Sen. Reid’s hold on our MOBILE NOW Act could actually backfire and harm the chances of the Rosenworcel nomination if it becomes clear there won’t be enough time left this year to advance bipartisan policy reforms that have yet to clear the House,” he said. “I’m surprised his retaliatory hold targeted a bipartisan committee effort because he’s acknowledged Sen. Nelson and I did everything we can to advance the FCC nomination.”