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Sen. Blumenthal Threatens to Block Simington FCC Nom

FCC seal
(Image credit: FCC)

WASHINGTON—The potential confirmation of Nathan Simington to replace Michael O’Rielly as a commissioner for the FCC has been put in jeopardy, as Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) has said that would put a hold on the nomination unless Simington commits to recusing himself from any decision regarding Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, according to a report from TVT’s sister publication Multichannel News.

Section 230 has been a hot-button issue on Capitol Hill. It gives social media networks immunity from civil liability for how they moderate their networks. President Trump has been urging for it to be modified, and FCC Chairman Ajit Pai said that he would look into potential action.

It is reported that O’Rielly, who was up for renomination as a commissioner, had his nomination pulled because he questioned whether the FCC had the authority to look into Section 230.

Simington, who had a hearing in front of the Senate Commerce Committee on Tuesday, Nov. 10, testified that he participated in the writing of the petition by the National Telecommunications & Information Administration to the FCC seeking modification/clarification of Section 230, and that as an FCC commissioner he would support the effort. He also said that he had conversations with the White House about Section 230 after being nominated to fill the open commissioner position by Trump.

Simington said it was too early to recuse himself, but that he would follow the advice of the FCC ethics officials on the matter.

Earlier in the day, President Trump offered his support to Simington via Twitter, saying that he hoped that Republicans would confirm him “ASAP.”

In addition, Democrats from the House Energy & Commerce Committee sent a letter to the FCC asking that, amid the results of the presidential election and the transition from Trump to President-Elect Joe biden, that all controversial/partisan matters on the FCC’s docket be put on hold. This would include Section 230.