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FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski, FCC Commissioner Robert McDowell to Step Down


FCC Commissioner Julius Genachowski and FCC Commissioner Robert McDowell both announced last week that they would be leaving the Commission. McDowell announced his resignation during the FCC’s open meeting on March 20, while Genachowski made his announcement in remarks to FCC staff on March 22. 

Genachowski was nominated by President Barack Obama to lead the Commission in June 2009. McDowell was appointed by President George W. Bush in 2006 and re-appointed by President Obama in 2009. While Genachowski's term is up later this year, McDowell's term is up in 2014. Both commissioners’ terms are up later this year. Neither Genachowski nor McDowell has announced their post-Commission plans.

Chairman Julius Genachowski
In his announcement, Genachowski noted that during his term as Commissioner, the FCC heavily promoted broadband connectivity for all Americans, auctioned and adjusted spectrum, guarded against digital threats, strengthened cybersecurity, enforced rules and regulations, adopted rules “to preserve Internet freedom and openness” and more.

“Although occasionally we disagreed, sometimes profoundly, [Genachowski] leaves office with my utmost respect,” McDowell said in a written statement. “He proved that through hard work, persistence and creativity, bipartisanship and compromise in policymaking can occur in Washington, even in these days of sharp divisions and gridlock... Since becoming Chairman, he has been an eloquent and effective advocate for repurposing valuable spectrum to meet the needs and demands of American consumers. The results may not come to fruition for years, but many of his efforts in the wireless sector will help spur investment, innovation and economic growth.”

Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel called it a privilege to work with Genachowski at the FCC. “He is responsible for developing our first national broadband plan,” she said in a written statement. “To his credit, he did more than create a plan, he took this blueprint and used it to bring broadband and make high-speed services more accessible to more Americans.”

Commissioner Robert McDowell
Robert McDowell announced on March 20 that he would soon be stepping down as FCC Commissioner. “After nearly seven years of carrying out the incredibly high honor of serving the American people at the FCC, it is time to turn more of my energies towards an even higher calling: serving my family,” McDowell said in a written statement. “After a great deal of deliberation, I have decided that I will step down as a commissioner of the Federal Communications Commission in a few weeks.”

FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski called McDowell “an extraordinary colleague [who was] deeply knowledgeable about the vital and growing communications and tech sector, creative, wise, and a great partner on the Commission.” He said McDowell “has been essential to major FCC achievements like the landmark reform of universal service and intercarrier compensation, and many steps to unleash spectrum. Rob’s thoughtful engagement in Commission policy has always improved the quality of our work.”

The departure of Genachowski (a Democrat) and McDowell (a Republican), leaves Mignon Clyburn and Jessica Rosenworcel as the FCC’s Democrats, and Ajit Pai as its sole Republican, giving Democrats a 2 to 1 voting advantage. Only three commissioners at a time may be members of the same political party. With two seats open on the FCC, the Obama Administration could advance a Republican and a Democratic nominee simultaneously, as it did with Pai and Rosenworcel in 2012.



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