WASHINGTON — A Capitol Hill hearing Tuesday on the nomination of one of its own to the Federal Communications Commission turned into a love fest, with both Democrats and Republicans saying top Senate staffer Jonathan Adelstein is just what the doctor ordered.
Adelstein was recommended for the job by his boss, Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle (D-S.D.), who spoke up for Adelstein during the Senate Commerce Committee session.
Once confirmed by the full Senate, Adelstein will fill the long-vacant Democratic seat at the FCC. Until then, Republican FCC chair Michael Powell continues to enjoy a 3-1 majority.
“It will be a breath of fresh air to have you on the commission, since it is a relatively inexperienced commission,” Sen. Byron Dorgan (D-N.D.) told Adelstein. “This FCC begs for your voice. Be a tiger!”
Republicans were likewise laudatory, with Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) saying Adelstein is “fully qualified” to play a “guiding role.”
McCain and Dorgan are among those lawmakers growing impatient with the FCC, saying the reg agency isn’t being aggressive enough when it comes to promoting the consumer. They also have criticized the FCC for not heeding the wishes of Congress.
Adelstein has worked on Capitol Hill for 15 years. He has been on Daschle’s staff since 1995, advising the solon on telecom issues.
During quizzing by members of the commerce committee, Adelstein agreed the media/telecom industry is in crisis, damaged by the collapse of WorldCom and the controversy around Adelphia.
Adelstein said investor confidence must be restored, so that the U.S. can maintain its edge when it comes to telecom advances.
“Greater bandwidth and more competition will foster more freedom and more opportunity — better bridges and highways between people,” Adelstein said.
It may take a while, however, for Adelstein’s nomination to clear the full Senate, due to an unrelated spat between McCain and the Bush administration over a nomination to the Federal Election Commission. Until the FEC nomination is resolved, McCain has vowed to block all other nominations from a vote.