FCC hearings may move up

WASHINGTON — The Senate Commerce Committee may hold confirmation hearings for the four incoming FCC commissioners as early as next month, say Congressional sources.

The committee hopes to hold the nomination hearings as early as possible because Congressional Republicans hope to adjourn for the year in October. The Commerce Committee is still waiting for the White House to formally nominate New Mexico telephone regulator Gloria Tristani to fill the fourth and final vacancy at the FCC. Tristani is currently undergoing routine background checks before her name is forwarded to Capitol Hill.

If the confirmation hearings are scheduled for September it will indicate that Sen. Ernest Hollings (D-S.C.) has decided not to stand in the way of Bill Kennard, whom the White House has tapped to replace outgoing FCC chairman Reed Hundt. Hollings had vigorously backed his own candidate, former aide Ralph Everett, for the post and has yet to endorse Kennard.

Hollings’ views are important because Senate Commerce Committee chairman John McCain (R-Ariz.) has promised not to move forward with any nominee that does not meet Hollings’ approval.

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