Expected Confirmations Will Put FCC Two for Two

The confirmations of Deborah Tate and Michael Copps for seats on the FCC is on the executive calendar of the full Senate awaiting action.

Copps, a Democrat, has been a commissioner since January 2001 and would serve a second five-year term that expires June 30, 2010. Tate, former director of the Tennessee Regulatory Authority, would fill a seat left vacant when Kevin Martin became chairman after Michael Powell left last March. Her term would expire June 30, 2007.

The confirmations would put the FCC at two Democrats--Copps and Jonathan Adelstein--and two Republicans--Tate and Martin. One more vacancy remains in the wake of Kathleen Abernathy's exit on Dec. 9. Sen. Ted Stevens, chairman of the Senate Commerce Committee told reporters that he brought up the vacancy at a White House meeting Dec. 13, and was told, "we're working on it."

Earlier this year, Stevens was rallying for a couple of people from his own camp to fill the slot--Christine Kurth, deputy staff director of the Commerce Committee, and Earl Comstock, former chief counsel to Stevens who is now a telecom lobbyist. Both withdrew before nominations were taken up by the White House.

Two more names have surfaced as possible nominees, according to National Journal's Technology Daily. One is Robert McDowell, a colleague of Comstock's at CompTel, a lobby representing Alltel, BellSouth, Cisco, Level 3 Communications, Quest Communications and Verisign, among others. The other is William Crispin, a Washington, D.C. firm whose client list reportedly includes Qualcomm, NextWave and Nextel (now Sprint).

The Senate Commerce Committee on Tuesday heard testimony from Copps and Tate on issues percolating at the FCC, including indecency. Copps said Congress ought to keep up the pressure on indecency, and Tate said she "shared a lot of the concerns" that she 'd heard and read about.

During her tenure on the TRA, Tate was appointed by former FCC Chairman Powell to the FCC Federal-State Joint Conference on Advanced Telecom Services, according to her bio posted on http://www.state.tn.us/tra/tate/tatefullbio.htm.

Before joining the TRA, she was director of the State and Local Policy Center at Vanderbilt University; a senior staffer in the governor's office, where she worked primarily on mental health issues.