Further Delays Leave United States at 435 Days and Counting Without Fully Functioning FCC and FTC
WASHINGTON — On Wednesday, the full Senate voted 51–50 to discharge from the Commerce Committee the nomination of Alvaro Bedoya to the Federal Trade Commission. This is an important procedural step necessitated by the 14–14, party-line tie vote on his nomination at the Committee stage. But there has been no announcement regarding a similar discharge vote for Gigi Sohn’s nomination to be the fifth and tie-breaking vote at the Federal Communications Commission, as Bedoya will be at the FTC.
Press reports earlier this week suggested that Sohn’s discharge vote could also occur before the Senate leaves for recess on April 9. But those same reports indicated that the Senate may delay the final confirmation votes for Sohn and Bedoya until that recess concludes at the end of April.
Free Press Action Co-CEO Craig Aaron said:
“It’s now been 435 days since President Biden was sworn in. The Senate has a number of crucial tasks in front of it, including confirming a stellar and historic Supreme Court nominee. And Senate Republicans and industry lobbyists have blatantly blocked progress for these exceptional FCC and FTC picks. But we can’t pin the blame entirely on Republicans. The failure of some Senate Democrats to see through these tactics and expediently confirm Sohn and Bedoya is undermining these agencies’ ability to close the digital divide, rein in Big Tech, and fulfill many other priorities that Senate Democrats espouse.
“These essential agencies need a full complement of commissioners to rule on a range of crucial public-interest matters, including making broadband access more affordable and open to people, enhancing privacy protections for users of online platforms, and safeguarding everyone in the United States from the abusive and predatory practices of massive telecom, broadcast and technology companies.
“Millions of people depend every day on the FCC and FTC to put the public interest before the interests of powerful media incumbents. And yet the politics of delay and obfuscation have stalled progress on these nominees for months. Industry lobbyists and Republican obstructionists have done everything they can to frustrate this process. The only way forward is for all Senate Democrats to prioritize these nominees and move them both ahead as soon as possible — and to do so before the upcoming recess.
“Continued inaction on the FCC and FTC nominations would squander too much of the time these agencies need to address the many crucial communications policy issues before the nation. There’s so much important work ahead, and having both Sohn and Bedoya in place ASAP is essential to getting it all done.”