The FCC currently has two vacancies, and is facing a third. Commissioner Mignon Clyburn’s term expires at the end of this month.
No more than three members of the five-member FCC can come from the same party. Rosenworcel and Clyburn are Democrats, and FCC Chairman Ajit Pai and Commissioner Michael O’Rielly are Republicans. Trump has yet to nominate a Republican for the other current vacancy, which would retain the commission’s GOP majority. A name that has been mentioned as a candidate is Brendan Carr, who is currently the FCC’s general counsel.
In recent weeks, there has been speculation that Trump would nominate Rosenworcel, in an agreement with Senate Democrats. That could pave the way for pairing her nomination with that of Pai, who Trump nominated for another term earlier this year.
Rosenworcel was on the FCC from 2012 until the start of 2017, when her tenure expired. President Barack Obama had renominated her in 2015, but her nomination was never brought to the floor, after a dispute between Republican and Democratic leadership.
“Hallelujah, better late than never,” said Sen. Ben Nelson (D-Fla.), the ranking member of the Senate Commerce Committee. “The Senate should now move quickly to confirm her and fulfill the promise that was made two years ago.”
Before she joined the FCC, Rosenworcel was senior communications counsel for the Senate Commerce Committee, where she worked for Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-W. Va.) from 2009 to 2011, and Senator Daniel K. Inouye from 2007 to 2008.
If confirmed, she would be rejoining the FCC in the midst of a new debate over net neutrality. Rosenworcel supported the FCC’s move in 2015 to reclassify Internet service like a utility, a regulatory designation that served as the foundation for robust rules of the road for the Internet. Pai has put up for public comment a proposal to roll back that designation.