FCC chairman willing to resign to get colleague confirmed

FCC chairman willing to resign to get colleague confirmed
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Tom Wheeler will step down as chairman of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) if it “ensures” that the Senate confirms Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel for another term, an FCC official confirmed to The Hill on Thursday.  

Republicans and Democrats are working toward a deal that would confirm the Democratic commissioner, who has been in limbo for the past year. But Republicans want Wheeler to step down from the commission so that Democrats will no longer have the majority on the FCC.

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The panel currently has three Democrats and two Republicans. Republicans want there to be space for Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpUSPS warns Pennsylvania mail-in ballots may not be delivered in time to be counted Michael Cohen book accuses Trump of corruption, fraud Trump requests mail-in ballot for Florida congressional primary MORE to appointment another GOP member when he becomes president.

Party leadership has not confirmed that it has reached a deal on Rosenworcel’s confirmation. However, Senate Minority Leader Harry ReidHarry Mason ReidPentagon forming task force to investigate military UFO sightings Kamala Harris makes history — as a Westerner McConnell goes hands-off on coronavirus relief bill MORE (D-Nev.) told Politico earlier in the week that a deal was being worked out. Senate Commerce Chairman John ThuneJohn Randolph ThuneTrump plans to accept Republican nomination from White House lawn Hillicon Valley: 'Fortnite' owner sues Apple after game is removed from App Store | Federal agencies seize, dismantle cryptocurrency campaigns of major terrorist organizations Republican senators call on FTC to investigate TikTok over data collection concerns MORE (R-S.D.) expressed hope to reporters that an agreement would be reached. 

Time is running out for lawmakers to reach a deal, as senators could wrap up their work as early as Friday. If Rosenworcel isn't confirmed before the Senate adjourns, she will not return as a commissioner in 2017. 

If Rosenworcel weren't confirmed, it would be possible for Wheeler — a Democrat — to remain on the panel until 2018, when his term expires. It’s almost certain that if he does, he will not be chairman, since Trump is expected to choose a Republican for the position.

A top Republican on the Commerce Committee suggested Thursday that Wheeler would like to move on from the agency.

“I think Mr. Wheeler would enjoy other pursuits,” Sen. Roger WickerRoger Frederick WickerDavis: The Hall of Shame for GOP senators who remain silent on Donald Trump The Hill's Coronavirus Report: INOVIO R&D Chief Kate Broderick 'completely confident' world will develop a safe and effective COVID-19 vaccine; GOP boxed in on virus negotiations Hillicon Valley: Lawmakers zero in on Twitter after massive hack | US, UK, Canada allege Russian hackers targeted COVID-19 vaccine researchers | Top EU court rules data transfer deal with the US is illegal MORE (R-Miss.) told The Hill when asked about the likelihood of Wheeler staying at the FCC.

On CNBC earlier this week, Trump FCC landing team member Jeffrey Eisenach said that the next acting FCC chairman will be one of the Republican commissioners already in place, Ajit Pai or Mike O’Rielly.

The details of Pai’s reconfirmation are still being worked out as well. Pai is expected to take over as chairman after Trump is inaugurated.  

Rep. Marsha BlackburnMarsha BlackburnTrump campaign blasts 'phony' Harris after Biden names her VP Davis: The Hall of Shame for GOP senators who remain silent on Donald Trump The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by the Air Line Pilots Association - Negotiators 'far apart' as talks yield little ahead of deadline MORE (R-Tenn.) told reporters on Thursday that Rosenworcel should not be confirmed so that Trump could have his pick.