People in the United States Are Paying a Steep Price for Two Years Without a Fully Functional FCC
WASHINGTON — Today, Jan. 20, marks two years since Ajit Pai resigned as chairman of the Federal Communications Commission, leaving the agency deadlocked 2–2 for the entirety of the Biden administration thus far. President Biden nominated longtime public-interest advocate and former FCC adviser Gigi Sohn for the vacant position in October 2021, but the Senate failed to confirm her in the 117th Congress. President Biden renominated Sohn on Jan. 3, 2023.
Free Press Action Internet Campaign Director Heather Franklin said:
“We’re now marking two years without a fully functional Federal Communications Commission. Never before has the American public had to wait so long for an FCC confirmation. This senseless delay has been driven by a bigoted, vicious and fact-free smear campaign coordinated by telephone, cable and broadcast industry lobbyists and right-wing operatives. The Senate must end this senseless charade and confirm Sohn. She’s an incredibly well-qualified candidate with a proven track record supported by civil-rights groups, competitive businesses, and public-interest organizations around the country and across the political spectrum.
“Senators must reject these corrupt and dishonest attacks and fulfill their commitment to seat Sohn as soon as possible. The ongoing delay at the FCC is undermining the Biden administration’s ambitious agenda, and it’s rewarding the corporations trying to derail the president’s priorities. But it’s hurting everyday people the most.
“Not having a fully functional FCC prevents the agency from adopting policies that would ensure that broadband access is affordable, open and reliable for all. It prevents the agency from fulfilling its commitment to diverse and local media ownership at a time of runaway consolidation across the industry. The lack of a fully functioning FCC also means that consumers are subject to the whims of big corporations that care only about maximizing their profits.
“In poll after poll, people in the United States of all political stripes say they want real Net Neutrality protections. Sohn is a strong advocate for open-internet safeguards. It’s a disgrace that so many lawmakers in Washington have ignored the will of their constituents in favor of delaying progress on the nominee who is essential to restoring the FCC’s open-internet rules.
“Gigi Sohn is a proven champion of the public interest, someone who gives weight to the concerns of everyone — not just rich and politically connected industry lobbyists. That’s why hundreds of organizations from every corner of the country — including leading civil-rights, community-media, media-justice, workers-rights and consumer-advocacy groups, along with companies, trade associations, and municipal and rural development associations — have lined up to support her. And that’s exactly why the industry is using so many underhanded tactics to stop her.
“We’ve waited two long years. The Senate needs to stop letting cynical political maneuvers from obstructionist lawmakers and industry-aligned lobbyists further delay the crucial work of the FCC. The people of this country deserve better. It’s time to confirm Sohn now.”