Nathan Simington, President Donald Trump’s controversial choice to be on the Federal Communications Commission, will get a vote Dec 2 from the Senate Commerce Committee on whether to advance his nomination to the full Senate. If Simington advances through the committee vote and then passes through a full vote in the Senate, he could put the FCC into a crunch for President-elect Joe Biden. If Simington’s nomination is approved, and FCC Chairman Ajit Pai steps down from his post ahead of the nomination (which is traditional), it would leave the agency stuck with 4 commissioners, two from each party. If Republicans maintain control of the Senate after the runoff elections in Georgia, they would be able to hold up a Biden nomination to the agency, continuing to leave the agency in a partisan deadlock. The FCC is supposed to have five members, including the chairman which is chosen by the president. Three of the commissioners are supposed to be from the president’s party, with the other two the opposite party. That inability to go through any votes that would go down party lines would stall movement on a number of issues that tech advocates have hoped would come with a Biden-backed FCC, including restoring net neutrality—which has been down party lines in past FCC votes. However, there has been some speculation about whether Simington has the votes to proceed both in the Senate committee and the full Senate.
Also, Chairman Ajit Pai appoints six members to the Board of Directors of the Universal Service Administrative Company (USAC). The three-year term for these positions begins on January 1, 2021.
- Representative for incumbent local exchange carriers (non-Bell Operating Companies) with $40 million or less in annual revenues: Geoffrey A. Feiss, General Manager, Montana Telecommunications Association;
- Representative for competitive local exchange carriers: Joseph Gillan, Consultant, Gillan Associates;
- Representative for low-income consumers: Ellis Jacobs, Senior Attorney, Advocates for Basic Legal Equality, Inc.;
- Representative for interexchange carriers with annual operating revenues of $3 billion or less: Michael Skrivan, Vice President Regulatory, Consolidated Communications;
- Representative for schools that are eligible to receive discounts pursuant to section 54.501 of the Commission’s rules: Joan H. Wade, Ed.D., Executive Director, Association of Educational Service Agencies; and
- Representative for rural health care providers that are eligible to receive supported services pursuant to section 54.601 of the Commission’s rules: Katharine Hsu Wibberly, Ph.D., Executive Director, Mid-Atlantic Telehealth Resource Center.