Senate approves nominations of Rosenworcel, Pai as new FCC commissioners

The U.S. Senate confirmed the nominations of Jessica Rosenworcel and Ajit Pai to the Federal Communications Commission on May 7, filling the vacancies left by the departures of Michael Copps and Meredith Atwell Baker.

A vote on the nominations had been held up for months by Sen. Charles Grassley (R-IA), who wanted documents from the FCC related to its initial decision to allow LightSquared to proceed with its satellite Internet service. The FCC, which declined to provide the senator with the documents, provided them to Republicans in the House of Representatives, effectively reaching a compromise that allowed the nominations to move forward.

Rosenworcel, a Democrat, and Pai, a Republican, have a history of being staffers of the Senate and the FCC. Upon being confirmed in the Senate, FCC Julius Genachowski released a statement welcoming the pair to the commission. The new commissioners "bring deep knowledge of our sector, and proven track records of accomplishments," he said in the statement.

News of the confirmation was met with approval by various trade groups. NAB president and CEO Gordon Smith released a statement congratulating Rosenworcel and Pai on their confirmations, calling the pair "well-respected public servants."

Likewise, the Consumer Electronics Association issued a statement congratulating the pair. Rosenworcel and Pai "each have a deep understanding of technology policy and will be excellent FCC commissioners," CEA president and CEO Gary Shapiro said in the statement.

CTIA president and CEO Steve Largent issued a congratulatory statement saying the pair's "knowledge of communications issues and their experience in Washington will make the great assets for the commission."

Rosenworcel takes the seat left vacant by the departure of Copps, who has joined the staff of Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-WV); Pai fills the vacancy left by Attwell Baker who left in 2011 to become a lobbyist for NBCUniversal.

Phil Kurz is a contributing editor to TV Tech. He has written about TV and video technology for more than 30 years and served as editor of three leading industry magazines. He earned a Bachelor of Journalism and a Master’s Degree in Journalism from the University of Missouri-Columbia School of Journalism.