WASHINGTON — On Thursday, the U.S. Senate voted to confirm Federal Communications Commission nominee Anna Gomez, who will fill a long-vacant fifth-commissioner seat at the agency. The vote finally creates a Democratic FCC majority at the agency — for the first time since the beginning of the Biden administration.
The unprecedented 32-month delay had deadlocked the FCC, and was the result of concerted efforts by the phone, cable and broadcast lobbies to hamstring the agency that oversees their businesses. Gomez’s confirmation restores the agency’s full complement of commissioners and provides a tie-breaking vote on issues related to diversifying media ownership, promoting broadband affordability and protecting the rights of internet users.
Commissioner Geoffrey Starks, who was renominated by President Biden in May, must be reconfirmed by the end of the year or he will be required to step down. Commissioner Brendan Carr has also been renominated for another term, but he can serve through 2024 without a vote on his next term.
Free Press Action Co-CEO Jessica J. González said:
“We’re overjoyed that the Senate confirmed Anna Gomez as the FCC’s fifth commissioner. We’ve waited for far too long for a fully functional FCC, and there’s so much crucial work before the agency. With Gomez now seated, the agency must start the process of reinstating its authority over broadband under Title II of the Communications Act. It must also complete its work to prevent digital discrimination and ensure that everyone in the United States has reliable and affordable broadband.
“I’m confident that Commissioner Gomez will be a champion for consumers. She has deep expertise on the issues and a strong track record of public service. I’m especially excited to welcome the first Latina FCC commissioner in more than two decades. Commissioner Geoffrey Starks has served with integrity during his first term and also deserves a swift confirmation.
“We’ve waited more than two-and-a-half years to get here. This senseless delay, orchestrated by giant media companies and their lobbyists, has prevented the Commission from doing everything it can to hold broadband and broadcast companies accountable. The burden has fallen most on working families trying to pay their rising monthly bills and on Black, Indigenous, Latinx and rural communities that the big telecom and broadcast conglomerates have long neglected.
“The FCC has a mandate to increase the diversity of local-media ownership and to ensure that broadband access is affordable, open and reliable for all. We need all five FCC commissioners to get to work as soon as possible to achieve these laudable goals.”