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Eighty Civil-Society Groups Urge Senate Leadership to Quickly Confirm President Biden’s Nominees to the FCC and NTIA

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On Tuesday, 80 civil-rights, media-justice, community-media, workers-rights and consumer-advocacy groups sent a letter urging Senate leadership to swiftly confirm Jessica Rosenworcel as chairwoman and Gigi Sohn as a commissioner of the Federal Communications Commission, and Alan Davidson as the director of the National Telecommunications and Information Administration.

In October, President Joe Biden nominated the three to these positions. Confirming Rosenworcel and Sohn would fill out the full complement of FCC commissioners at five, ending the potential for 2–2 deadlocks.

“These agencies urgently need Senate-confirmed leaders to address the critical need for affordable and resilient access to the open internet in the midst of a global pandemic and worsening climate crisis,” reads the letter sent to Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, Commerce Committee Chair Maria Cantwell and Commerce Committee Ranking Member Roger Wicker. “Through bipartisan infrastructure legislation, Congress has given these agencies enormous tasks on tight deadlines.”

The Senate Commerce Committee has scheduled a confirmation hearing for Rosenworcel on Wed., Nov. 17. On Monday, President Biden signed a landmark $1.2-trillion infrastructure bill, which includes $65 billion for broadband deployment and affordability.

“[T]here can be no delay in confirming [these nominees] and getting started in earnest on all of that urgent work,” the groups wrote. “These three nominees each bring decades of experience, a commitment to the public interest, and the skills necessary to fulfill the missions of these agencies.”

The letter was signed by 18 Million Rising, the American Library Association, Color Of Change, the Communications Workers of America, Common Sense, Demand Progress Education Fund, Electronic Frontier Foundation, Free Press Action, Greenpeace USA, MediaJustice, the Mozilla Foundation, Native Public Media, NTEN, the Open Technology Institute, the United Church of Christ Media Justice Ministry and the Writers Guild of America West, among others.

“The broad coalition represented in this letter reflects a rapidly growing and urgent recognition that the Senate must act to ensure agencies like the FCC and NTIA are fully functional,” said Mark Stanley, director of operations and senior strategist for the Demand Progress Education Fund. “The essential nature of accessible broadband and an open internet has never been more evident. Despite this, we are quickly approaching a full year in which a critical agency like the FCC has been without all five of its commissioners. The time is now for Senate leadership to move forward and for all senators to support the confirmations of these highly qualified public-interest champions.”

“Getting these three proven leaders in place couldn’t be more urgent,“ said Heather Franklin, campaign manager for Free Press Action. “Poor families and people of color are disproportionately disconnected across the United States. High-speed internet is essential infrastructure as communities struggle to get online in the face of an unprecedented global-health emergency and an ever-worsening climate crisis. Congress has put forth legislation that begins to solve the national connectivity problem. It must immediately take the next step and confirm the leaders needed to help more people access open and affordable networks.”