Technology

Senate panel to vote on Biden’s FCC, FTC nominees

The Senate Commerce Committee on Wednesday will vote on President Biden’s nominees to fill spots at the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and Federal Trade Commission (FTC), vacancies that have remained open one year into Biden’s presidency. 

The panel failed to advance Biden’s FCC nominee, Gigi Sohn, and FTC nominee, Alvaro Bedoya, at the end of last year. The president renominated them earlier this month, teeing off another debate on the committee over past comments Bedoya and Sohn made about conservative media that Republicans have centered their pushback on. 

As the confirmations have been held up, the two commissions have been comprised of 2-2 splits along party lines — limiting the agendas the Democratic chairs can push forward. 

Progressive tech advocacy groups have been pushing Democrats to take action on the nominations. 

Fight for the Future issued a statement earlier this month asking the committee to stop “dragging their feet” on the nominations and leading the FTC and FCC to be held up in pushing forward agendas to rein in the power of tech giants and reinstate net neutrality. 

“This is largely because Senate Democrats, and particularly the Senate Commerce Committee, has allowed disingenuous complaints from telecom industry groups, and Republican lawmakers sympathetic to their interests, to result in disastrous delays in advancing essential tech policy goals. Americans are in desperate need of these consumer protection agencies as their dependence on affordable access to the open Internet has grown during the pandemic,” Fight for the Future said in the statement.

Free Press Action in a statement earlier this month urged the committee to call a vote by the end of January, and for Senate leaders to “commit the necessary floor time to confirm these nominees as soon as possible and let them get to work.”

“If we’re going to end the digital divide, protect privacy and keep any eye on powerful companies, we need to let these stellar public-interest advocates fill their roles now,” Free Press Action co-CEO Craig Aaron said in a statement. 

Sohn has a history of advocating for open and affordable communications networks. She is a distinguished fellow at the Georgetown Law Institute for Technology Law & Policy and a Benton Senior Fellow and Public Advocate. 

Bedoya is a Georgetown Law professor and the founding director of the school’s Center on Privacy & Technology. He also served as the first chief counsel to the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Privacy, Technology and the Law.

Tags Alvaro Bedoya Biden nominees FCC Federal Communications Commission Federal Trade Commission FTC Gigi Sohn Joe Biden

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