Reid holds Thune bill up over FCC nomination

Reid holds Thune bill up over FCC nomination
© Cameron Lancaster

Senate Minority Leader Harry ReidHarry Mason ReidSenate hopefuls embrace nuking filibuster Biden fails to break GOP 'fever' Nevada governor signs law making state first presidential primary MORE (D-Nev.) is holding up legislation backed by Senate Commerce Chairman John ThuneJohn Randolph ThuneFrustration builds as infrastructure talks drag On The Money: Senate braces for nasty debt ceiling fight | Democrats pushing for changes to bipartisan deal | Housing prices hit new high in June Transit funding, broadband holding up infrastructure 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.

ADVERTISEMENT

“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 CruzOvernight Defense: US launches another airstrike in Somalia | Amendment to expand Pentagon recusal period added to NDAA | No. 2 State Dept. official to lead nuclear talks with Russia No. 2 State Dept. official to lead nuclear talks with Russia next week Here's evidence the Senate confirmation process is broken MORE (R-Texas) and Mike LeeMichael (Mike) Shumway LeeOvernight Defense: US launches another airstrike in Somalia | Amendment to expand Pentagon recusal period added to NDAA | No. 2 State Dept. official to lead nuclear talks with Russia US launches second Somalia strike in week Biden's misinformation crackdown spotlights partisan divide on content reform 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.”