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President Biden Makes Historic Nominations to Lead FCC

President Biden Makes Historic Nominations to Lead FCC

When Joe Biden was still on the campaign trail, he promised repeatedly to build a Cabinet that reflected the diversity of the country it would serve. He also said he would extend that to his other appointments throughout government agencies, a promise he has delivered on repeatedly in less than a year in office.

President Biden has once again let his actions speak for him by nominating the first woman and member of the LGBTQ community to head the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), with another woman in a second vacant leadership position.

Gigi Sohn (L) and Jessica Rosenworcel [Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images]

President Biden is moving to fill two openings at the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), nominating Jessica Rosenworcel as the commission’s chair, and former FCC staffer Gigi Sohn to a second vacant seat. Rosenworcel has been serving as the acting chair of the commission and has been on the panel since 2012. Sohn was counselor to former FCC chair Tom Wheeler. If confirmed by the Senate, she would become the first openly LGBTQIA+ commissioner. Rosenworcel is also the first woman to chair the panel.

Should the nominations be approved by the Democratic-controlled Congress, the biggest change to watch for is that the FCC will finally have the Democratic majority it needs to bring back the Obama-era net neutrality rules, which have become a hugely divisive issue between Democrats and Republicans.

Under President Barack Obama, the FCC passed net neutrality in 2015, the rule that forces internet service providers, or ISPs (Comcast, Verizon, and AT&T, for instance) to treat all of the data that travels across their networks equally. Under those rules, these companies couldn’t charge more if customers go to certain sites, or make their internet speeds faster or slower depending on where they go and the services they use. In order to pass net neutrality, the FCC reclassified broadband from an information service to a common carrier, like telephone service. That then gave the FCC more regulatory power over it.

When Donald Trump took office, the FCC, chaired by Ajit Pai, quickly set about repealing net neutrality and re-reclassifying broadband as an information service.  Those ISP privacy protections never went into effect, and internet service providers were able to continue to collect, sell, or share customer data.

Vox does a deep dive into the net neutrality issue and the future of the FCC here.





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