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Jessica Rosenworcel’s FCC Future in Doubt as Senate Eyes Adjournment

With the Senate set to adjourn as early as this evening, the future of FCC Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel is in doubt as lawmakers have so far failed to reconfirm her for another term.

Her tenure will end on Dec. 31 unless the Senate includes her renomination in its a flurry of end-of-the-year legislation.

The Senate Commerce Committee approved her reconfirmation late last year, but it has been held up since then.

A spokesman for Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said on Friday afternoon that there were no announcements on nominees.

Rosenworcel, a Democrat, was sworn in May of 2012, and President Barack Obama nominated her for an additional term in May of 2015. Although the Senate Commerce Committee approved the nomination last December, it has been held up in partisan wrangling.

Senate Democrats accuse Republicans of reneging on an agreement between Minority Leader Harry Reid and Majority Leader McConnell to reconfirm her. But Republicans also wanted assurances, even before the election, that Wheeler would depart when a new administration took over.

The speculation is that Wheeler, a Democrat, will do so anyway, even though his term runs through 2018. Past FCC chairmen have left around the time of the start of a new administration.

The party that controls the White House, then, has the opportunity to command a majority on the FCC.

If Rosenworcel were reconfirmed and Wheeler departs, that would then leave the FCC with a 2-2 deadlock until a Trump nominee for the vacant position can be confirmed. That process could take up to six months.

That’s why some conservatives have been pushing for McConnell not to take action on Rosenworcel’s nomination, as it would leave the Republicans with a 2-1 majority from the outset.

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