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WASHINGTON — Following news of Sen. Ben Ray Luján’s health emergency, the Senate Commerce Committee did not vote at today’s session on Gigi Sohn’s nomination to fill the fifth commissioner’s seat at the Federal Communications Commission.

According to press reports, the confirmation vote for Sohn is almost certainly delayed until Sen. Luján can return, and his health-care decisions are obviously the foremost concern. Free Press Action sends its best wishes for Sen. Luján’s speedy and full recovery and looks forward to his return to work representing the people of New Mexico.

In advance of an expected vote, Free Press Action has compiled a comprehensive roster of letters, Op-Eds and statements calling on senators to give Sohn their full support. Nearly 250 organizations and individuals from across the political spectrum have made or signed on to dozens of statements expressing support for Sohn.

Groups calling for her swift confirmation include 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. Sohn has also received support from right-wing media outlets that appreciate her work fighting to curb the power of broadcast, telecom and cable incumbents and ensure competition in the media.

Free Press Action Vice President of Policy and General Counsel Matt Wood said:

“We are concerned by news of Senator Luján’s health, send our very best wishes and look forward to his expected recovery. The Commerce Committee was ready to vote on Sohn today and needed to press pause given this news. That’s because the Committee will need all 14 Democrats there to move ahead on this incredibly well-qualified nominee.

“This shouldn’t be a partisan issue, and as the outpouring of support for Gigi Sohn makes clear, it isn’t partisan outside of Senator Wicker’s office and the editorial offices at Rupert Murdoch’s Wall Street Journal and New York Post. The widespread support for her confirmation is a reflection of Sohn’s decades-long track record of bringing together varied stakeholders in bipartisan coalitions to fight for equitable broadband policies, media diversity, consumer protections, competition and the open internet.

“Senator Luján’s recovery takes precedence, as it should. But Chairwoman Cantwell must commit publicly to moving ahead with the confirmation vote in her committee immediately upon his return. There is absolutely no reason to buckle to Ranking Member Wicker’s blatant obstructionism and his ridiculous requests for additional hearings. Sohn has a sterling reputation; what’s more, she already answered the committee’s questions during her hearing in December and in the written responses she’s since submitted. Senator Cantwell must pledge to get this important vote done as soon as possible.

“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 have lined up in support of Sohn.

“We’ve waited over a year for a fully functional FCC. We can’t let cynical lobbying efforts from the broadcast or telecom industries further delay Sohn’s confirmation. There’s little time to waste and so much to get done at the FCC: ensuring the billions being invested in broadband actually reach those who need it most, restoring open-internet protections, reckoning with the agency’s history on race, and ensuring that all people have access to media opportunities, not just a handful of greedy corporations.

“This upcoming vote is essential to the future of the media in the United States. Senator Cantwell must treat this as a top priority. By confirming Gigi Sohn, the Senate can help ensure that America’s media system serves everyone.”

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