FCC Chair Nominee Advanced by Senate Committee

The Senate Commerce Committee this week advanced Tom Wheeler, President Obama’s nominee to be the next FCC Chairman, to the full Senate for a confirmation vote. The Committee’s approval was not without reservations from some Republican Senators, however. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) noted that he wanted to know more about Mr. Wheeler’s approach to broadcast indecency enforcement before the full Senate votes. Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) highlighted concerns related to the DISCLOSE Act (H.R. 148). While Democrats on the Committee have pressed for the FCC to exercise alleged existing authority to force disclosure of political TV ad donors, Senator Cruz has countered by underlining the deep divisions in Congress on the DISCLOSE Act and warned the Commission not to get into the partisan debate.  Senator Cruz stated that he had not received a sufficient response from Mr. Wheeler and declared, “I may well support using procedural means to delay this nomination until he answers the very reasonable question that has been posed.”

Mr. Wheeler is a managing director at Core Capital Partners, a Washington investment firm, and a Board Member for EarthLink. He led the National Cable Television Association in the early 1980s and the Cellular Telecommunications & Internet Association (CTIA) from 1992 to 2004. He was also a key Obama campaign ally in 2008 and 2012. It is unlikely that his nomination will be advanced on the Senate Floor until it is paired with a Republican FCC Commissioner nominee to replace former Commissioner Robert McDowell.

By Aaron Mercer, Vice President of Government Relations

Published: August 2, 2013