The Senate on Thursday confirmed Jessica Rosenworcel and Brendan Carr to openings on the Federal Communications Commission, as senators moved a slew of President Donald Trump’s nominees before leaving for the August recess.
Both Rosenworcel (D) and Carr (R) were confirmed by voice vote to the FCC’s two current vacancies. Chairman Ajit Pai, who was nominated to serve another term, was not among the nominees confirmed by the Senate.
The two new additions will join Pai, along with commissioners Mignon Clyburn and Michael O’Rielly, at the federal agency.
“I congratulate Brendan and Jessica on their confirmations,” Pai said in a statement. “As I know from working with each of them for years, they have distinguished records of public service and will be valuable assets to the FCC in the years to come. Their experience at the FCC makes them particularly well-suited to hit the ground running.”
Democrats expressed unease about a proposed extended term for Carr, the FCC’s general counsel, during a Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee executive session on Wednesday.
The Trump administration nominated Carr to fill out the rest of former FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler’s term, in addition to serving his own five-year term. Wheeler’s first term ends June 2018, and Carr’s additional term would keep him on the commission through June 2023.
Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) said Democrats were concerned because the seat currently held by Clyburn, a Democrat, comes up next year and there is a possibility that Republican commissioners could hold a 3-1 majority at the FCC through the end of 2019.
Markey said confirming Carr to fill Wheeler’s remaining term now, and then considering a Democrat and Republican nominee to the FCC in 2019, “would create the proper pairing of a Democrat and a Republican who would be brought before us simultaneously, which is the tradition of the committee.”
The Senate only confirmed Carr to finish the remaining portion of Wheeler’s term. Clyburn has not expressed her plans about serving a third term.
Sen. Bill Nelson (D-Fla.), a member of the Senate Commerce Committee, said during the committee’s executive session that Carr would still be able to serve into 2019 if he was not confirmed for an extended term.
Rosenworcel previously served as an FCC commissioner from 2012 to 2015. Her first term expired in May 2015, but she was allowed to stay on as a commissioner after former President Barack Obama renominated her for a second term. Rosenworcel’s nomination was initially withdrawn by Trump following his inauguration and after Senate Republicans did not bring up her nomination for a vote.
Following the additions of Rosenworcel and Carr, the FCC will now operate at its full slate of five commissioners. Republican commissioners maintain a 3-2 advantage on the commission.