President Trump has nominated FCC General Counsel Brendan Carr to fill the last vacancy on the FCC. Mr. Carr took over as the agency’s general counsel when Ajit Pai became Chairman of the FCC in January. Before that, he was a legal adviser to Mr. Pai. The president previously renominated Mr. Pai, whose term expired June 30, 2016, and former Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel, whose term expired June 30, 2015, to additional terms (TR Daily, March 7 and June 14). President Obama had renominated Ms. Rosenworcel, but the nomination never received a confirmation vote in the Senate, so she had to leave when the 2016 session of Congress adjourned, as Chairman Pai would have to leave when the current session adjourns, unless he is confirmed to another term first.
Chairman Pai and Ms. Rosenworcel’s renominations are for the terms immediately succeeding their own expired terms. Mr. Carr has been nominated for the remainder of former Chairman Tom Wheeler’s term, which expires June 30, 2018, and for an additional five-year term commencing on July 1, 2018. Before serving as legal adviser to then-Commissioner Pai, Mr. Carr was an attorney in the FCC’s Office of General Counsel. He has also worked in private practice at Wiley Rein LLP.
Traditionally, a Republican and a Democratic nominee to independent agencies are paired for confirmation votes, although FCC Commissioner Mike O’Rielly was confirmed without a paired Democratic nominee, on the pledge, according to Democratic senators, that Ms. Rosenworcel would receive an unpaired confirmation vote, which did not happen.
A spokesman for Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R., Ky.) said today that he had no guidance or announcement to offer on potential confirmation pairings involving the pending and intended FCC nominations.
In a statement, Chairman Pai said of his former adviser, “I congratulate Brendan Carr on the President’s announcement that he will be nominated to serve as an FCC Commissioner. Brendan has a distinguished record of public service, having worked at the agency for over five years, including most recently as the FCC’s General Counsel. In particular, Brendan’s expertise on wireless policy and public safety will be a tremendous asset to the Commission. I look forward to working with him in his new role and wish him all the best during the confirmation process.”
Democratic FCC Commissioner Mignon L. Clyburn, whose own term expires tomorrow, said, “I congratulate Brendan Carr on being nominated by the President to serve as a Commissioner on the Federal Communications Commission. He is well respected on both sides of the aisle and has demonstrated a deep knowledge of the legal and policy issues facing the communications sector, both as an advisor to then Commissioner Pai and now as General Counsel of the agency. Brendan is a great asset to the Commission and I wish him a successful Senate confirmation.”
Republican FCC Commissioner Mike O’Rielly, whose term runs until June 30, 2019, said, “I congratulate Brendan Carr on his selection by President Trump for a seat at the FCC. Mr. Carr will be an added voice at the Commission in efforts to reduce senseless regulations and install sound policymaking. I look forward to working with him in his new capacity, pending consideration of the nomination by the U.S. Senate.”
Industry and other stakeholders also offered their congratulations.
NCTA President and Chief Executive Officer Michael Powell, a former FCC Chairman, said, “We congratulate Brendan Carr on his well-deserved nomination as FCC Commissioner. With his impressive public and private sector experience, Brendan is steeped in the important issues that the FCC will tackle in the coming years. We urge Congress to act quickly on his nomination and look forward to working with Brendan and the entire Commission on policies that will promote marketplace investment and innovation for the benefit of American consumers.”
CTIA President and CEO Meredith Attwell Baker, a former FCC Commissioner, said, “CTIA and the wireless industry congratulate Brendan Carr on his nomination as an FCC Commissioner. He is an accomplished and talented attorney who understands the importance of wireless to consumers and the U.S. economy. The FCC is focused on a range of wireless issues, including infrastructure siting for next generation 5G wireless networks, and we hope his nomination will be swiftly approved by the Senate.”
American Cable Association President and CEO Matthew Polka said, “ACA believes Brendan Carr is an excellent choice to serve on the FCC, and we support President Trump for making this nomination. Brendan Carr is a highly regarded attorney with a wide-ranging understanding of modern communications law and regulation. His addition will enhance the FCC’s ability to arrive at sound policy conclusions that will serve the public interest, particularly with regard to ensuring that all Americans, wherever they may live, have a robust connection to the Internet.”
Mr. Polka added, “ACA looks forward to working not only with Brendan Carr but also with FCC Commissioner-designate Jessica Rosenworcel after both have been confirmed by the Senate. ACA urges the Senate to act on these nominations expeditiously.”
Will Johnson, Verizon Communications, Inc., senior vice president–federal regulatory and legal affairs, said, “Brendan Carr is an excellent choice for the Federal Communications Commission. With years of experience at the Commission, he has a deep knowledge and understanding of the critical issues that impact our industry. He’ll hit the ground running on vital issues such as encouraging deployment of 5G and next-generation networks, promoting public safety, and closing the digital divide.”
Mr. Johnson added, “Mr. Carr is a dedicated public servant with a strong commitment to market-oriented policies that will foster innovation and investment. We expect him to play an important role as the agency helps usher in a new era of innovation and opportunity in the broadband and communications space.”
Comcast Corp. Senior Executive VP and Chief Diversity Officer David Cohen said, “Brendan’s vast knowledge of the communications industry, combined with his strong legal credentials, will allow him to hit the ground running as the Commission pursues policies to stimulate investment and job creation in the communications marketplace to benefit consumers and drive economic growth. We congratulate Brendan on his well-deserved nomination and look forward to working with him on the Commission.”
In a statement, Charter Communications said, “Given his previous experience as the FCC’s General Counsel and in the telecommunications sector, Carr brings years of valuable know-how to this leadership role. We look forward to working with him and his colleagues on the Commission to continue to advance policies that encourage businesses to innovate, invest in broadband infrastructure, create more jobs, and grow the economy in communities across the U.S.”
CenturyLink, Inc., VP–federal governmental affairs David Bartlett said that Mr. Carr “is a first-rate lawyer with a behind-the-scenes track record of getting things done at the FCC. He understands the challenges of providing broadband service to rural America and the importance of the U.S. remaining the global leader in broadband deployment. We look forward to working with him on policies to bring the benefits of the broadband economy to more communities in America.”
National Association of Broadcasters President and CEO Gordon Smith, a former senator, said, “NAB strongly endorses the nomination of Brendan Carr to the FCC. He has a firm grasp on telecom and media law and the right temperament to be a superb Commissioner. We support his swift confirmation.”
Robert McDowell, chief public policy adviser for Mobile Future and a former FCC Commissioner, said, “On behalf of Mobile Future, I congratulate my friend Brendan Carr on being nominated to serve as a Commissioner on the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). Brendan’s broad and deep expertise on wireless legal and policy issues will be a tremendous asset to the FCC as it pursues a forward-looking agenda focused on ensuring that America remains the world leader in mobile communications. Freeing up more spectrum and removing unnecessary barriers that delay the deployment of the infrastructure needed for cutting-edge 5G technologies are essential to spurring the American economy. Brendan has an ideal background and regulatory philosophy to produce policies that will bring positive and constructive change to the benefit of all Americans.”
Free State Foundation President Randolph May said, “With the nomination of Brendan Carr, the FCC is moving a step closer to having the full complement of commissioners. No one doubts that Brendan is eminently qualified to take the seat, and that’s true as well of Jessica Rosenworcel, who has been nominated to fill a Democratic slot. Having served at the Commission as Associate General Counsel, I think the agency functions best with all five commissioners on board. The five certainly won’t always agree on matters, but the exchange of different ideas in a congenial, collaborative matter often leads to better decisions at the end of the day.” —Lynn Stanton, firstname.lastname@example.org