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 SullivanSwing votes steal spotlight in marathon Trump impeachment Q&A Live coverage: Senators enter second day of questions in impeachment trial The Hill's Campaign Report: Ten days to Iowa 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 ThuneSchumer requesting .5 billion in emergency funding on coronavirus Republicans give Barr vote of confidence Trump creates new headaches for GOP with top intelligence pick 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 TrumpTrump endorses former White House physician Ronny Jackson for Congress Newly released emails reveal officials' panic over loss of credibility after Trump's Dorian claims Lindsey Graham thanks Trump, bemoans 'never-ending bull----' at South Carolina rally  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.