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Pablo Martinez Monsivais / AP

Republican Federal Communications Commission member Ajit Pai has been Democratic Chairman Tom Wheeler's foil for the past three years. Now, Pai's fortunes have changed: multiple industry sources say Donald Trump will soon elevate Pai to lead the FCC. The news was first reported by Politico.

Pai has significant ties to the Washington conservative establishment. Ed Corrigan, a Heritage Foundation executive who is working at a senior level with the transition team, has been a strong advocate for Pai. The two men both worked for Attorney General nominee Sen. Jeff Sessions.

Some sources familiar with transition discussions say he will be designated the permanent chair, but other sources said it was not immediately clear.

Bottom line: Regardless, Pai will be the tip of the spear in trying to roll back Wheeler's work. That could give internet providers like Verizon and AT&T wins and be a blow for companies like Google, Facebook and Netflix. "I expect him to move very quickly," says Berin Szoka, who heads up the conservative group TechFreedom.

A spokesman for Pai declined to comment.

Bio: Pai has served on the commission since 2012 and has regularly clashed with Wheeler on major regulatory initiatives from net neutrality and privacy rules to reforms to broadband subsidy programs. His previous positions will serve as the underpinning of an aggressive push to erase the legacy of the FCC's Obama years.

Here's where he stands on the key issues:

Pai wants to squash Wheeler's signature victory: his net neutrality rules. In a letter last month with Republican colleague Michael O'Rielly, Pai said that he would "revisit" the issue of the net neutrality rules "as soon as possible" after January 17. That's great news for the Comcasts, AT&Ts and Verizons of the world, who have all tried to challenge such rules over the years.

And — unlike Wheeler — he doesn't think the government should be aggressive in merger reviews. He has complained about an approach to reviewing deals that tries to extract broader promises from the companies involved. Those views are especially relevant given the pending sale of Time Warner to AT&T and a potential merger of Sprint and T-Mobile.

He does not see subsidies as the best way to expand broadband access in poor communities. Pai has been skeptical of rapidly expanding the Lifeline program that pays for phone and internet service for low-income people. Instead, he wants the government to offer tax credits to internet service providers and entrepreneurs who build out in low-income areas.

Pai wants to relax media ownership rules. He was critical of an August FCC decision to keep a rule in place forbidding one company from owning a newspaper and broadcast outlet in the same market. He could also roll back limitations on agreements used by TV stations to sell ad time to each other.

He is in favor of resolving a fight over airwaves between Detroit and Silicon Valley. Pai has expressed an interest in opening up more of a block airwaves that are allocated for vehicles to unlicensed uses, like wifi. Public Knowledge's Harold Feld suggested commissioners could resolve that issue with bipartisan consensus. Pai will oversee the conclusion of a major auction where broadcasters sell their airwaves to wireless providers, which has been a bipartisan effort at the commission and in Congress.

Axios reporter Jonathan Swan contributed to this report.

Go deeper

Updated 54 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Capitol review panel recommends more police, mobile fencing

Photo: Olivier Douliery/AFP via Getty Images

A panel appointed by Congress to review security measures at the Capitol is recommending several changes, including mobile fencing and a bigger Capitol police force, to safeguard the area after a riotous mob breached the building on Jan. 6.

Why it matters: Law enforcement officials have warned there could be new plots to attack the area and target lawmakers, including during a speech President Biden is expected to give to a joint session of Congress.

CDC says fully vaccinated people can take fewer precautions

Photo: Filip Filipovic/Getty Images

People who have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19 can take fewer precautions in certain situations, including socializing indoors without masks when in the company of low-risk or other vaccinated individuals, according to guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released Monday.

Why it matters: Per the report, there's early evidence that suggests vaccinated people are less likely to have asymptomatic infection and are potentially less likely to transmit the virus to other people. At the time of its publication, the CDC said the guidance would apply to about 10% of Americans.

Dan Primack, author of Pro Rata
3 hours ago - Economy & Business

Ripple CEO calls for clearer crypto regulations following SEC lawsuit

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Ripple CEO Brad Garlinghouse tells "Axios on HBO" that if his company loses a lawsuit brought by the SEC, it would put the U.S. cryptocurrency industry at a competitive disadvantage.

Why it matters: Garlinghouse's comments may seem self-serving, but his call for clearer crypto rules is consistent with longstanding entreaties from other industry players.