Dec 8, 2020 - Technology

Senate confirms Trump's FCC pick

A photo of the entrance to the FCC's former headquarters, with a Christmas wreath hanging over the door
Photo: Samuel Corum/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

The Senate voted 49-46 Tuesday to confirm President Trump's nominee to the Federal Communications Commission, setting up the Biden administration to start with a deadlocked agency.

Why it matters: Nathan Simington's addition to the FCC will mean Democrats will lack a majority at the telecom regulator once Joe Biden takes office and will struggle to advance party priorities such as reinstating net neutrality rules.

Catch up quick: Trump nominated Simington from the Commerce Department after revoking the renomination of GOP Commissioner Mike O'Rielly.

  • O'Rielly questioned the FCC's authority to carry out the president's social media executive order aimed at limiting online platforms' ability to moderate content.
  • But Simington, who worked in the telecom arm of the Commerce Department, was involved in the petition to the FCC to implement Trump's order.
  • After the election, observers in telecom policy circles were skeptical that Simington would clear the confirmation process during the lame-duck period, despite pressure from Trump and his allies.

What they're saying: Democrats opposed Simington's confirmation, given his work on the social media order and the resulting deadlock at the FCC.

  • "I think the purpose of confirming this nominee very simply is to deadlock the commission and undermine the president-elect's ability to achieve the mandate the American people have given him and his administration going forward," Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) said in a speech on the Senate floor.
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