WASHINGTON—Nathan Simington, President Donald Trump’s nominee to replace outgoing Commissioner Michael O’Rielly on the FCC, has been confirmed by the Senate in a 49-46 vote. Simington will serve a five-year term that will be back-dated to begin from July 1, 2019.
Simington will join current FCC commissioners Jessica Rosenworcel, Brendan Carr and Geoffrey Starks. FCC Chairman Ajit Pai will continue to serve in that role until Jan. 20, 2021, at which point he will leave the commission.
Pai congratulated Simington in a statement:
"I congratulate Nathan on his confirmation by the U.S. Senate and look forward to welcoming him to the commission. It has been the greatest honor of my professional life to serve at the FCC, and I am confident that Nathan too will enjoy the challenges and rewards of the job."
Simington’s nomination to the FCC came after President Trump rescinded the nomination of another five-year term for Commissioner O’Rielly after O’Rielly publicly questioned the FCC’s ability to review Sec. 230 of the Communications Decency Act, which President Trump has pushed for and to potentially remove protections of social media companies.
Simington previously worked for National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA), the chief communications advisory arm for President Trump. Simington helped worked on a petition for the FCC to review Sec. 230, which was mandated by President Trump.
Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) was one of the loudest voices against Simington’s confirmation. In a speech on the Senate floor prior to the vote, Blumenthal described Simington’s nomination to the FCC as “the wrong person at the wrong time for the FCC,” adding that he is “unprepared and unqualified.” He also warned that Simington’s nomination at this time could lead to gridlock at the FCC when President-Elect Joe Biden’s administration begins.
Republican legislators have largely remained silent in regards to Simington's nomination.
Simington's new colleagues on the FCC offered their congratulations shortly after his the Senate vote.
"Once he is sworn in, I look forward to working with together with him and my other colleagues on the commission on common sense policies that will advance the public interest," said Commissioner Carr.
Commissioner Rosenworcel similarly welcomed her new colleague, adding that she looks forward to working with Simington on "our nation's most pressing digital age communication challenges."
NAB President and CEO Gordon Smith also issued a note of congratulations:
"We look forward to working with [Simington] and his colleagues on policies that enable broadcasters to best serve their communities at a time when local broadcasters' role to educate and inform Americans has never been more important," said Smith.
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