WASHINGTON — The nomination of a top Capitol Hill aide to fill a Democratic seat at the Federal Communications Commission lapsed into critical condition on Monday, with the Senate’s highest Republican stepping up his war call to block the Dem pick.
The partisan tit-for-tat could well mean that the fifth FCC seat remains vacant for some time to come, leaving Republicans in control of the agency by a 3-1 majority. The seat has been empty since last fall.
Congressional insiders said that Senate Minority Leader Trent Lott, enraged that Senate Democrats refused to appoint a friend to an appellate judgeship, will indeed go ahead and prevent Jonathan Adelstein from being appointed to the FCC post.
Adelstein is telecommunications counsel to Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle — Lott’s nemesis.
Lott has insisted that his opposition to Adelstein has nothing to do with last week’s Senate vote nixing the appointment of U.S. District Judge Thomas Pickering to the U.S. Appeals Court in New Orleans. Rather, Lott said Adelstein is too young for the job — even though Adelstein is a year older than FCC topper Michael Powell.
It’s unlikely that Daschle will agree to drop Adelstein and put forth another Dem for the FCC nomination.
Over the weekend, Lott indicated he would support the nomination of Andy Levin, a telecom aid to Rep. John Dingell (D-Mich.). Levin’s name came up as a possible pick last fall, but Senate Dems selected Adelstein instead.
Although Democrats control the Senate, Lott can effectively block Adelstein’s nomination.