FCC Commissioner Michael Copps Announces Resignation
On Monday, December 5, FCC Commissioner Michael Copps notified President Barack Obama that he would resign as Commissioner effective January 1, 2012. If the Senate does not confirm a successor prior to Copps’ departure, the FCC would be down to three commissioners: two Democrats and one Republican. Only three sitting Commissioners may be members of the same political party. At present, Chairman Julius Genachowski, Copps and Mignon Clyburn are Democrats. Ever since Meredith Attwell Baker left the Commission in June 2010, Robert McDowell has been the lone Republican.
“Yesterday, I submitted to the President notice of my intention to resign my post as Commissioner effective January 1, 2012,” Copps said in a press release. “Should the Senate confirm my successor prior to that date, or should the Senate adjourn sine die before January 1, I would of course be leaving sooner.”
Copps has served as a Commissioner since May 2001. In January 2009, he took on the additional role of acting FCC Chairman, following the resignation of then-FCC Chairman Kevin J. Martin. Copps relinquished the chairmanship to Julius Genachowski after Genachowski was confirmed by the US Senate and sworn into office in June 2009.
In November 2011, President Obama nominated Democrat Jessica Rosenworcel last month to fill Copps’ expected vacancy. Rosenworcel has a history at the FCC. Before joining the United States Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, she worked at the FCC from 1999-2007, serving as Copps’ Senior Legal Advisor. President Obama also nominated Republican Ajit Varadaraj Pai to the seat left vacant by Baker. If both Rosenworcel and Pai are confirmed by the Senate, the FCC would be at its full complement of five Commissioners.
When the nominations were announced, Copps’ Confidential Assistant Carolyn Conyers told the ARRL that Copps’ term expired on June 30, 2010. “He is serving on what we call ‘extended time,’” she explained. “He will leave office when Congress comes back from recess, whenever that may be, or when the nominee has completed her confirmation process, whichever comes first. But it is doubtful that Jessica’s nomination process will be completed before the new year.”
Calling it a “privilege and honor” to serve as FCC Commissioner for more than a decade, Copps called the FCC “an agency of true excellence and its decisions are integral to our country’s future. Ubiquitous, opportunity-creating broadband and a resource-rich media capable of informing our civic dialogue are critically-important components of our future success as a people, and I intend to keep speaking about these challenges as a private citizen in the years ahead. It has been the highest honor to serve with my colleagues on the Commission. I thank them all for their dedication, collegiality and friendship.”