Under the regime of Barack Obama, independent regulatory commissions have strayed from their history of bipartisan panels trying to do the best job possible to highly weaponized and partisan operations focused on ramming through a progressive agenda that would never survive at the ballot box under the guise of regulating a particular industry. One of the worst offenders has been the Federal Communication Commission. Under the leadership of the Obama appointed chairman Tom Wheeler, the FCC has transitioned from managing frequency spectrum and trying to keep you safe from robocallers to a petty feifdom ruled by Democrats, employing Democrats, and enacting rules to benefit Democrats:
- Attempting to force non-profits filing in commission proceedings to reveal their donor lists in clear violation of Supreme Court precedent;
- Improperly coordinating with the White House to encourage mass “clicktivism” as probative evidence to support the FCC’s controversial decision to reclassify broadband internet access as a Title II common carrier telecommunications service while deliberately ignoring any serious economic analysis of the issue;
- Hiring people for senior leadership positions at the commission even though they filed as interested parties in dockets they were later tasked with supervising, thus creating a serious conflict of interest problem;
- Illegally attempting to hold a Twitter town hall with an outside party to discuss a yet-to-be-released commission item during the Sunshine Act “quiet period”;
- Only making public the results of an internal peer review critical of the FCC’s economic analysis in the Business Data Services proceeding on the very day comments were due, thus depriving interested parties of an opportunity for meaningful comment;
- Continuing to lie to the American people that cable and satellite companies allegedly charge consumers $231 a year in set-top box rental fees, even though that number was thoroughly and publicly debunked;
- Improperly expanding the FCC’s important merger review authority to impose conditions and “voluntary commitments” to serve select political constituencies and priorities that by any reasonable account had no nexus to any specific merger-related harm;
- And as perhaps the most partisan act Wheeler grasping the hands of his fellow Democratic commissioners and raising them high over their heads in a victory salute to a standing ovation after the Open Internet Order vote. Such childish behavior simply confirmed what every telecommunications professional already knew: Wheeler had no intention of conducting a dispassionate analysis and viewing all parties equally before the law. (I shudder to think what would happen if several justices of the Supreme Court were to do the same after a controversial ideological vote.)
Right now the five-member commission is deadlocked with two Republican members and two Democrat members and one Democrat vacancy. The vacancy is that of Jessica Rosenworcel whose appointment expired in 2015 and her reappointment has not been acted on. Her confirmation was first delayed by Republicans, but lately it has been stymnied by a Senatorial hold put on her by two Democrat senators:
On Thursday, two Democratic senators came down hard on Rosenworcel for what they say is her opposition to two pending commission rules — one to open up the cable set-top box marketplace and the other to bring wireless internet to rural areas.
Sens. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) and Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) filed a formal objection, called a “hold,” on Rosenworcel’s confirmation, complicating her chances of receiving a Senate vote over the next few weeks. If the respected former Capitol Hill Democrat doesn’t get a vote before the end of December, she will be required to leave the agency.
The Senate Commerce Committee approved Rosenworcel’s nomination with strong support from both parties, but until now, her floor vote was blocked due to opposition from a few Republicans.
Now Harry Reid is scurrying about in his gimpy, half-blind way, trying to round up votes to remove a hold on a Democrat nominee by Democrat senators to try to force a vote on her confirmation little more than a month before Trump is inaugurated. This would locke in a 3-2 Democrat majority for at least two years.
This is so insane that the Senate might force a Democratic FCC onto President Trump. It's almost surreal.
— Phil Kerpen (@kerpen) December 2, 2016
Don’t let the Senate force a Democratic FCC on President Trump via @AmerComm: https://t.co/hmBHMPSJ1V
— Phil Kerpen (@kerpen) December 2, 2016
In an ideal world, we could rest easy knowing that there is a Republican majority in the Senate and there is no way in hell a lame duck president should get to control the FCC for the next two years. But, alas, our Senate majority is led by that human jellyfish, Mitch McConnell. McConnell has been so thoroughly stump-broken by Harry Reid that he will be one of only a few Republicans attending a lavish send off party for Reid. McConnell had promised Reid a speedy confirmation to Rosenworcel back in 2015 to pave the way for the confirmation of Republican Michael O’Reilly and it is not beyond the realm of possiblity that McConnell will give Reid Rosenworcel’s confirmation as a going away present.
Otherwise, the whole play by Reid is simply the stupidity for which Reid is famed.