FCC: Changes on Deck?
By Aaron Mercer, Vice President of Government Relations
November 4, 2011
The President and Members of Congress are eyeing changes for the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). President Obama officially nominated Jessica Rosenworcel and Ajit Pai to fill the seats of Commissioner Michael Copps, whose tenure ends this year, and former Commissioner Meredith Attwell Baker, who resigned this summer to join Comcast. Rosenworcel, currently a senior staffer for Senate Commerce Committee Chairman Jay Rockefeller (D-WV), has served in a number of senior counsel positions in Congress and at the FCC, including the role of Senior Legal Advisor to Commissioner Copps. Pai, too, has held senior counsel positions at the FCC, Department of Justice, and on Capitol Hill, including Chief Counsel for the Senate Judiciary Committee’s Constitution Subcommittee under former Senator Sam Brownback (R-KS).
Meanwhile, Representative Greg Walden (R-OR) and Senator Dean Heller (R-NV), who both have key positions of oversight over the FCC, this week introduced reform legislation “to improve the way the Federal Communications Commission operates by improving transparency, predictability, and consistency.” Among other reforms, their bill would prescribe rules for publication of, performance measures for, and a “shot clock” to act on FCC orders.
In a 396 - 9 vote on Tuesday night, the House of Representatives reaffirmed “In God We Trust” as the national motto of the United States and encouraged its display in public venues. Congressman Randy Forbes (R-VA), the resolution’s sponsor, stated that this action by the House “provided clarity amidst a cloud of confusion about our nation's spiritual heritage and offered inspiration to an American people that face challenges of historic proportion." Marking the 50th anniversary of the motto in 2006, the Senate unanimously approved a related resolution authored by former Senator Sam Brownback (R-KS) and the late Senator Robert C. Byrd (D-WV), which acknowledged “In God We Trust” as “a fundamental aspect of the national life of the citizens of the United States… central to the hopes and vision of the Founding Fathers for the perpetuity of the United States... [and] no less vital to the future success of the Nation.”
Senate Democrats intend to advance a bill to overturn the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) introduced the so-called Respect for Marriage Act (S.598) to roll back DOMA’s federal definition of marriage as the “legal union between one man and one woman as husband and wife,” and its protection for states not to be forced to recognize same-sex relationships considered a marriage in other states. Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-VT) called up the bill for consideration before the Committee this week; however, Ranking Member Chuck Grassley (R-IA) used a Committee rule to delay its consideration until at least next week. Senator Grassley noted that he intends to have amendments for consideration at the next business meeting. DOMA has been in effect since 1996 when President Bill Clinton signed it into law. During this week’s meeting, Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY) emphasized his commitment to DOMA’s repeal. “It will happen,” he declared. Notably, his colleague from New York, Congressman Jerrod Nadler (D-NY), also focused on this battle over marriage during a hearing on domestic religious liberty before the Constitution Subcommittee of the House Judiciary Committee last week.
On October 31st, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) voted to admit Palestine as a Member State. The vote tally by current Member States was 107 - 14, with 52 nations abstaining. Following the vote, the U.S. State Department announced that, in accordance with U.S. law, UNESCO’s action triggered a withholding of U.S. funds to the international agency. America’s position is reiterated in the next appropriations bill due to be considered by the Senate: “…none of the funds appropriated under this heading may be made available for the Palestinian Authority if Palestine becomes a member or non-member state of the United Nations outside of an agreement negotiated between Israel and the Palestinians.” Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas submitted an application for full UN membership in September.
The Inside Story: Key Government Issues for Christian Communicators
>> Reaffirmed: “In God We Trust”
>> Respect for Marriage?
>> UN Agency Ups Ante on Palestine
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