Senate Approves Two New FCC Commissioners, Commission to Be at Full Strength
Six months after President Barack Obama nominated Jessica Rosenworcel and Ajit Varadaraj Pai to the Federal Communications Commission, the Senate confirmed their appointments on Monday, May 7. Rosenworcel, a Democrat, fills the seat vacated by Michael Copps who retired from the Commission earlier this year; her term runs through June 30, 2015. Pai, a Republican, replaces Meredith Attwell Baker, who left the FCC in June 2011; his term runs through June 30, 2016. Once Rosenworcel and Pai are sworn in, the FCC will be at its full complement of five Commissioners.
According to various reports, the two will be sworn in by the end of this week. Their nominations had been held up since December in an unrelated dispute between the FCC and Senator Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) over agency approval of LightSquared’s wireless application. When Grassley received the sought-after documents two weeks ago, he lifted a hold on the nominations.
The FCC has been down two commissioners since Baker and Copps left the Commission, leaving the agency with only three commissioners: two Democrats and one Republican. Only three sitting Commissioners may be members of the same political party. At present, Chairman Julius Genachowski and Mignon Clyburn are Democrats while Robert McDowell is the lone Republican on the Commission.
“I want to congratulate Ajit Pai and Jessica Rosenworcel on their Senate confirmation and welcome them to the Commission,” said FCC Chairman Genachowski in a written statement. “They bring deep knowledge of our sector and proven track records of accomplishment. President Obama made an outstanding choice in their nominations, and I look forward to working with them.”
Rosenworcel is the Senior Communications Counsel for the United States Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, working for Senator Jay Rockefeller IV since 2009, and previously for Senator Daniel K. Inouye from 2007-2008. Before joining the Committee, she worked at the FCC from 1999-2007, serving as Legal Advisor, and then Senior Legal Advisor to Commissioner Copps (2003-2007), Legal Counsel to the Bureau Chief of the Wireline Competition Bureau (2002-2003) and as an Attorney-Advisor in the Policy Division of the Common Carrier Bureau (1999-2002). From 1997-1999, Rosenworcel was a communications associate at Drinker Biddle and Reath. She received a BA from Wesleyan University and a JD from New York University School of Law
Pai is a partner in the Litigation Department of Jenner & Block LLP. Immediately prior to joining Jenner & Block, he worked in the Office of the General Counsel at the FCC where he served as Deputy General Counsel, Associate General Counsel and Special Advisor to the General Counsel. Previously, Pai served as Chief Counsel to the US Senate Judiciary Committee’s Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights and Property Rights, and as Senior Counsel at the Office of Legal Policy at the US Department of Justice. Pai also served as Deputy Chief Counsel to the US Senate Judiciary Committee’s Subcommittee on Administrative Oversight and the Courts, and as Associate General Counsel at Verizon Communications. He began his career as a law clerk to Judge Martin L.C. Feldman of the US District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana, and then as an Honors Program trial attorney in the Telecommunications Task Force at the US Department of Justice’s Antitrust Division. Pai holds a BA from Harvard University and a JD from the University of Chicago.