Senate returns FCC to full strength

The Senate returned the Federal Communications Commission to full strength Wednesday night, confirming a bipartisan pair of nominees to full five-year terms.

Brendan Carr, a sitting Republican commissioner, was reconfirmed to a new term and Democratic nominee Geoffrey Starks was confirmed after a months-long delay in a voice vote Wednesday night, on the last day of the session.

Their confirmations had been delayed after Sen. Dan SullivanDaniel Scott SullivanLincoln Project targets Senate races in Alaska, Maine, Montana with M ad buy Overnight Energy: Official says protesters not cleared from Lafayette Square for Trump | Trump administration blasts banks refusing to fund Arctic drilling | 2019 coal production hit lowest level since 1978 Trump administration blasts banks that refuse to fund arctic drilling MORE (R-Alaska) had placed a hold on Carr’s nomination, which had been paired with Stark’s, over a dispute with the FCC about the agency’s rural health care efforts. Sullivan agreed to release the hold last month after talks with FCC Chairman Ajit Pai.

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“The agreement to pair and confirm these nominees finally gives us a full FCC to decide important questions about spectrum management, the deployment of broadband to underserved communities, and building next-generation wireless networks,” Sen. John ThuneJohn Randolph ThuneFrustration builds as negotiators struggle to reach COVID-19 deal Unemployment benefits to expire as coronavirus talks deadlock McConnell tees up showdown on unemployment benefits MORE (R-S.D.), the chairman of the Senate Commerce Committee,  said in a statement. “I congratulate Geoffrey Starks and Brendan Carr on this Senate action allowing them to turn their attention toward work benefiting the public.”

Starks was nominated by President TrumpDonald John TrumpOklahoma City Thunder players kneel during anthem despite threat from GOP state lawmaker Microsoft moving forward with talks to buy TikTok after conversation with Trump Controversial Trump nominee placed in senior role after nomination hearing canceled MORE in June of last year. He had been serving as the assistant bureau chief of the FCC’s Enforcement Bureau after leaving the Justice Department in 2015, where he was a senior counsel to Deputy Attorney General Jim Cole.

Carr, who was confirmed to a partial term in 2017, had previously been a legal adviser to Pai before briefly serving as the FCC’s general counsel.

“I am honored to serve another term, & I am particularly pleased that Starks - a talented public servant - will join my colleagues & I as we work to bring more broadband to more Americans,” Carr said in a tweet Wednesday night.

The FCC now has all five seats filled with three Republicans and two Democrats.