FCC’s Wheeler Stays Mum As Rosenworcel Waits


The procedural battle over confirming the Federal Communications Commission’s Jessica Rosenworcel to another term is basically a game of chicken – and agency chairman Tom Wheeler isn’t blinking yet.

During a Q&A session at the National Press Club June 20, Wheeler was asked whether he would announce his retirement from the agency in order to help Rosenworcel, a fellow Democrat, win confirmation to another term. He said simply that she “ought to be confirmed standing on her own.”

Rosenworcel’s first term at the FCC officially ended in June 2015.  By then, President Barack Obama had already nominated Rosenworcel to a second term, but her reconfirmation by the Senate has been stuck in limbo ever since amid partisan gridlock. Republicans, including Senate Commerce Chairman John Thune (R-S.D.), have suggested they’d consider confirming Rosenworcel if Wheeler announces his retirement.

Wheeler declined to say that he’d step aside if it meant confirmation for Rosenworcel.

“There's a little thing that's going to happen in November, so we'll see then,” he said.

The thing is, if the Senate doesn’t act on Rosenworcel’s confirmation by Dec. 31, she’s out at the FCC. Wheeler’s reference to the election suggests that, for now, he has no intention of backing down even if the Senate keeps Rosenworcel’s confirmation off the calendar until after Nov. 8 — when Rosenworcel would have to be confirmed in a post-election lame-duck session.