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Senate Confirms Rosenworcel, Pai as FCC Commissioners

Wednesday, May 16, 2012
By Paul Barbagallo

The Senate May 7 confirmed President Obama's nominees, Democrat Jessica Rosenworcel and Republican Ajit Pai, to serve on the Federal Communications Commission.

The Senate's unanimous-consent vote gives the FCC a full, five-member commission for the first time since May 2011, when Commissioner Meredith Attwell Baker, a Republican, left the agency for a job in the Washington offices of Comcast Corp.

Democratic Commissioner Michael Copps' term ended at the end of the year, leaving the commission will only three voting members.

Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) had held up the confirmation process for roughly four months in an attempt to coax the FCC to hand over documents related to its review of mobile broadband start-up LightSquared Inc. After the FCC submitted documents to lawmakers late last month, Grassley agreed to lift the hold.

Lawmakers, FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski, and representatives of the telecommunications and high-tech industries widely celebrated the Senate's vote May 7.

Prior to the announcement of Grassley's hold, both nominees were expected to move relatively smoothly through the confirmation process.

Both new commissioners come to the agency with impressive backgrounds in communications policy.

Rosenworcel was most recently senior communications counsel for the Senate Commerce Committee. She previously worked for Sen. Daniel Inouye (D-Hawaii), from 2007 to 2008, and at the FCC as a senior legal adviser to Michaels Copps from 2003 to 2007 and legal counsel to the agency's Wireline Bureau chief, from 2002 to 2003.

Prior to that, Rosenworcel was a communications associate at Drinker Biddle and Reath.

Pai was a partner at Jenner & Block. He formerly served as chief counsel to the Senate Judiciary Committee's Subcommittee on Civil Rights and senior counsel at the Justice Department's Office of Legal Policy.

Pai initially began his career as a law clerk to Judge Martin Feldman of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana before joining the Justice Department as an Honors Program trial attorney in the Telecommunications Task Force of the Antitrust Division.

Pai also has served as associate general counsel at Verizon Communications Inc.

Rosenworcel will join Genachowski and Democratic Commissioner Mignon Clyburn with the majority, while Robert McDowell and Pai will be in the new Republican minority.

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