Technology

50 groups urge Biden to fill FCC opening to reinstate net neutrality rules

Greg Nash

More than 50 advocacy groups on Monday sent a letter to President Biden urging him to nominate a candidate to fill an open seat on the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). 

The groups said it is necessary for Biden to appoint a nominee to the FCC in order to start the process to reinstate net neutrality rules rolled back under former President Trump, and underscored their push by noting the additional hurdles posed by the pandemic. 

“This is all the more urgent given the fact poor families and people of color are disproportionately disconnected from high-speed internet access, compounding grave inequalities that were made worse during the pandemic,” the groups wrote, according to a copy of the letter

“Given the legislative calendar and the diminishing number of days for hearings and confirmation votes, we have reached a critical point to guarantee the agency charged with ensuring affordable communications access can do its work during your administration,” they wrote.

The letter is signed by groups including Demand Progress Education Fund, the American Civil Liberties Union, Common Cause, Public Citizen and the Writers Guild of America West. 

The FCC currently has a 2-2 split of Republican and Democratic commissioners. A Biden appointee could give Democrats the extra vote as they look to reinstate net neutrality regulations repealed in 2017 under the Trump administration. 

The commission voted 3-2 to repeal the Obama-era net neutrality rules in 2017, with Republicans on the commission carrying the vote along party lines. 

Biden appointed Democrat Jessica Rosenworcel to lead the agency in an acting capacity earlier this year. If Rosenworcel were to be appointed as permanent chair — as Democratic congresswomen have urged Biden to do — she would be the first woman to lead the FCC in that capacity. 

A White House spokesperson did not immediately respond to a request for comment. 

Tags biden administration commission Donald Trump FCC Jessica Rosenworcel Joe Biden Ne Neutrality White House

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