WASHINGTON — On Thursday, Federal Communications Commission Chairman Tom Wheeler announced his intention to step down from the federal agency on Jan. 20, 2017, at the end of President Barack Obama's term.
Wheeler was appointed by Obama and confirmed by the U.S. Senate in 2013. A series of significant and even historic victories for the public marked his tenure, including passing strong Net Neutrality rules, restoring the agency’s authority under Title II of the Communications Act, preventing the dangerous merger of Comcast and Time Warner Cable, reforming the Lifeline program, and establishing broadband-privacy protections.
Free Press President and CEO Craig Aaron made the following statement:
“When Tom Wheeler was named to head the FCC, we voiced serious reservations about how a former industry lobbyist could do the job. But he proved us wrong. We haven’t agreed with him on every decision, but time and again Wheeler showed a willingness to stand up to industry pressure, listen to voices outside the Beltway and — perhaps most importantly — to change his mind.
“His legacy will be as one of the most effective chairs ever to hold the post — judged rightfully not by the number of unanimous votes but by actual accomplishments. Wheeler didn’t come into this job as a Net Neutrality champion, but he will be remembered first and foremost for his leadership on that crucial issue and for the standing ovations he earned on the day of the FCC’s historic vote.
“He shares the credit with two colleagues, Commissioners Mignon Clyburn and Jessica Rosenworcel, for the Net Neutrality victory and for many of the FCC’s most important accomplishments in a generation, including reforming the Lifeline program, standing against the Comcast-Time Warner Cable merger, and establishing broadband-privacy protections.
"Unfortunately, the next administration has promised to undermine and overturn the major accomplishments of the Wheeler FCC. Industry lobbyists are dusting off their worst proposals. And the team leading the agency’s transition has even called for abolishing the FCC.
“We thank Tom Wheeler for his public service. And we promise to fight any attempts to attack the best policies advanced during his tenure. We call on the next administration and the new Congress to build on Wheeler’s legacy by appointing future chairs and commissioners who are willing to put people first — instead of rubber-stamping industry demands.”