Hey Mitch McConnell: Don't let the Democrats Deadlock the FCC!

Hey Mitch McConnell: Don't let the Democrats Deadlock the FCC!
Federal Communications Commission Chairman Tom Wheeler, left, testifies on Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday, Dec. 12, 2013, before the House Energy and Commerce Committee hearing on cell phones on planes. Wheeler is joined at the witness table with FCC Commissioners from second from left, Mignon Clyburn, Jessica Rosenworcel, Ajit Pai, and Michael O'Rielly. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

You may have heard some folks sounding the Red Alert about the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). Basically, there’s a possible combination of events, enabled by Senate Republican corruption, that could lead to Barack Obama deadlocking the FCC at least a year into the Donald Trump administration.

But this is easy to solve.

The FCC is a five member body. Traditionally there are three members of the party in the White House, and two who are not, with any of the five eligible to be named Chairman by the President. Each member has a five year term. In practice though, the current Chairman traditionally resigns when a new President comes into office, allowing the new President to appoint a new member and name that member the new Chairman.

However FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler is playing hardball, and has announced that he does not intend to resign in order to allow Donald Trump to appoint a new member as Chairman, in the way that Barack Obama was allowed to appoint Julius Genachowski, Wheeler’s predecessor at FCC.

As a result of Wheeler’s intransigence, what should be a routine matter, has become a potential crisis. Barack Obama and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell have reportedly been talking about a possible deal, to get a McConnell staffer a new gig, in exchange for a prompt reconfirmation of FCC Democrat Jessica Rosenworcel.

That’s a problem with that. If Wheeler refuses to resign, then the Rosenworcel seat is the only option Donald Trump would have to appoint a new member for at least a year. So most Republicans would rather that the Senate not reconfirm Rosenworcel at all, instead holding that seat open for Trump to appoint another Republican.

But there’s a solution to all this, hinted at by TechFreedom: Republicans should reconfirm Rosenworcel, but delay until the new Congress. Then all at once they should reconfirm Rosenworcel, reconfirm Republican Commissioner Ajit Pai (who’s great, by the way), and importantly, confirm Donald Trump’s replacement for Wheeler.

Congressional Republicans should make it clear to Obama and to Wheeler: If you want Rosenworcel reconfirmed, Wheeler must resign in January. Put it on him to act like every other FCC Commissioner, admit that elections have consequences, and resign to allow a peaceful transition of power in our government.

Make it clear to Democrats that if Wheeler remains obstinate, then it will be Rosenworcel who takes the brunt of it, not Trump.

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