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WASHINGTON — On Thursday, the Senate Commerce Committee advanced the nominations of Alvaro Bedoya and Gigi Sohn to respectively fill final vacant commissioner spots at the FTC and FCC. Both longtime public-interest advocates, Bedoya and Sohn now must be discharged from the committee’s consideration due to the party-line, tied-committee vote in the evenly divided Senate. They must then be confirmed by the full Senate before assuming their roles at these agencies.

The two had faced opposition from lawmakers and lobbyists representing the interests of tech, media and telecom industries, which have sought to delay the confirmation process as long as possible, and prevent both agencies from acting on important issues related to affordable-broadband access, open-internet and online-privacy protections, media diversity and platform accountability. Seating Bedoya and Sohn will give the Democratic majority at each agency the votes it needs to rule on these crucial matters.

Free Press Action VP of Policy and General Counsel Matt Wood made the following statement:

“Today’s vote clears one of the last hurdles to getting these agencies to full strength, and giving people the benefits and safeguards they need to connect and communicate in the United States. Both Alvaro Bedoya and Gigi Sohn are devoted public servants and advocates for policies and programs that will improve people’s lives. They have the political savvy and depth of legal and technical knowledge to take on the many challenges before them at both agencies. They have a proven ability to reach beyond partisan divides and build consensus. With Chairwoman Cantwell having successfully navigated this tricky process, it’s time for Majority Leader Schumer and the Senate to confirm these highly qualified nominees and let them get to work as soon as possible.

“Professor Bedoya has committed his career to protecting people’s privacy against abusive and discriminatory data practices, and safeguarding everyone’s rights to equal opportunity. He has successful track records in the academic, legislative and advocacy worlds. He has the right ideas for how to protect internet users from the predatory practices of data brokers and tech companies. His appointment to the FTC will allow this crucial and reinvigorated agency to get to work on protecting people, promoting competition and holding powerful companies accountable.

“Gigi Sohn is a champion of the public interest, someone who gives weight to the concerns of everyone, regardless of their professional affiliation, income level, geographic location or political pedigree. 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 both municipal and rural development associations — have lined up to support her.

“This vote never should have been a partisan issue. And as the outpouring of support for both nominees makes clear, it isn’t partisan outside of the machinations of a handful of political and industry operatives based in Washington, D.C.

“We’ve waited over a year for a fully functional FTC and FCC. We can’t let cynical political maneuvers from obstructionist lawmakers and industry-aligned hacks further delay Bedoya and Sohn’s ability to serve people everywhere. There’s so much important work ahead, and having both of them in place is essential to getting it all done.”

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