Jan 21, 2021 - Technology

Biden taps Rosenworcel to lead FCC

A photo of Jessica Rosenworcel

Photo: Alex Wong via Getty Images

President Biden has designated Jessica Rosenworcel as acting chairwoman of the Federal Communications Commission, according to an agency statement.

Why it matters: Rosenworcel, currently a Democratic commissioner at the agency, will be tasked with implementing a new broadband subsidy program meant to help Americans stay connected to the internet during the coronavirus pandemic.

Details: Rosenworcel served as an FCC commissioner during both the Obama and Trump administrations. She supported net neutrality rules and opposed mega-mergers that came before the agency including that between T-Mobile and Sprint.

  • Her greatest focus, however, has been on shoring up the FCC's subsidy programs and the broadband connectivity data they rely on.
  • Rosenworcel has particularly emphasized the need to close the "homework gap" — the divide between students who have fast, reliable in-home internet and those who don't.

Yes, but: She may be constrained in her ability to advance some major policy initiatives, as the FCC is currently deadlocked along party lines, until Biden can name a third Democrat to the five-member commission.

What's next: Biden will either tap Rosenworcel to be permanent chair or pick another candidate to head the agency, subject to Senate confirmation.

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