And Again There Were Five: FCC Back to Full Complement
The Federal Communications Commission once again has its full complement of five commissioners. On Tuesday, the US Senate confirmed the White House nomination of venture capitalist and industry insider Thomas Wheeler, a Democrat, to be FCC chairman. He succeeds former FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski, who stepped down in June. The Senate also confirmed Michael O'Rielly as a commissioner to one of the two Republican seats on the Commission. O’Rielly, a New Yorker who is on the staff of Texas Republican Senator John Cornyn, will fill the remainder of the term expiring June 30, 2014, that had been held by Robert M. McDowell, who resigned in May. Acting FCC Chairwoman Mignon L. Clyburn, who now will return to her seat as a commissioner, congratulated Wheeler and O’Rielly on their confirmations.
“Tom brings a tremendous depth of experience, talent, and knowledge that will serve him well as the leader of this critically important agency,” Clyburn said in a statement. “I have no doubt that he will be an outstanding FCC Chairman. With his extensive public policy expertise and understanding of the communications landscape, Michael will certainly be an invaluable asset to the Commission.”
Wheeler also served as a wireless and cable industry lobbyist. He was president of the National Cable Television association from 1979 until 1984.
Senate politics had held the FCC to just three members since last spring. Texas Republican Senator Ted Cruz had blocked Wheeler’s nomination vote over concerns that the FCC might adopt new political TV advertising disclosure rules. Cruz says that Wheeler told him that the issue was not a priority.