Sign up for our daily briefing

Make your busy days simpler with Axios AM/PM. Catch up on what's new and why it matters in just 5 minutes.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Denver news in your inbox

Catch up on the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Denver

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Des Moines news in your inbox

Catch up on the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Des Moines

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Minneapolis-St. Paul news in your inbox

Catch up on the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Twin Cities

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Tampa Bay news in your inbox

Catch up on the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Tampa Bay

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Charlotte news in your inbox

Catch up on the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Charlotte

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Clockwise from top left: Brandt Hershman, Roslyn Layton, Ben Moncrief, Michelle Connolly

Tech isn't top of mind in Washington right now: Congress is consumed by the Obamacare fight, the major antitrust job at the Justice Department sits empty, and the FTC doesn't yet have a permanent chair.

For now, that means most of the action is at the FCC, which has already moved quickly under new Republican Chairman Ajit Pai to roll back Obama-era policies. And who Trump nominates for the third Republican seat is the current hot parlor game in D.C. telecom circles. Here's a look at the contenders for the job, according to people familiar with discussions. (The White House declined to comment.)

1. American Enterprise Institute scholar Roslyn Layton served on Trump's FCC transition team.

  • Layton was opposed to many of the signature rules adopted under former Chairman Tom Wheeler, including net neutrality, broadband privacy and opening up the set-top box market.

2. Ben Moncrief is a lobbyist for C Spire, a wireless company based in Mississippi.

  • Moncrief would potentially be good news for smaller companies like C Spire and could be a tough break for the big dogs like AT&T and Verizon. That makes him a tough sell for some Republicans who are close to the large telcos.

3. Michelle Connolly served as a the agency's top economist under its last Republican chairman, Kevin Martin. Her tenure overlapped with Pai's time as a staffer in the general counsel's office.

  • It's pretty clear why big telcos would approve of Connolly: She referred to the FCC's net neutrality rules as "net neutering," per a Breitbart report at the time, and is listed as a policy fellow for the American Conservative Union's foundation. She would also be the first economist to be on the dais since Harold Furchtgott-Roth during the Clinton administration.

4. Indiana State Sen. Brandt Hershman is seen as an ally of Vice President Mike Pence and has been considered a leading candidate for some time, though some sources say he may not longer be the frontrunner.

  • Hershman's biggest resume line when it comes to tech policy is that he was instrumental in the passage of a bill deregulating the telecom sector in Indiana. He also supported AT&T while the FCC was reviewing its purchase of DirecTV.

The bottom line: No matter who Trump picks, it won't change the commission's deregulatory trajectory that puts it on a collision course with Silicon Valley — particularly when it comes to net neutrality rules.

Go deeper

In photos: Protests outside fortified capitols draw only small groups

Armed members of the far-right extremist group the Boogaloo Bois near the Michigan Capitol Building in Lansing on Jan. 17. About 20 protesters showed up, AP notes. Photo: Seth Herald/AFP via Getty Images

Small groups of protesters rallied outside fortified statehouses over the weekend ahead of President-elect Joe Biden's inauguration Wednesday.

The big picture: Some protests attracted armed members of far-right extremist groups but there were no reports of clashes, as had been feared. The National Guard and law enforcement outnumbered demonstrators, as security was heightened around the U.S. to avoid a repeat of the Jan. 6 U.S. Capitol riots, per AP.

4 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Trump to issue at least 100 pardons and commutations before leaving office

Photo: Mandel Ngan/AFP via Getty Images

President Trump plans to issue at least 100 pardons and commutations on his final full day in office Tuesday, sources familiar with the matter told Axios.

Why it matters: This is a continuation of the president's controversial December spree that saw full pardons granted to more than two dozen people — including former Trump campaign chair Paul Manafort, longtime associate Roger Stone and Charles Kushner, the father of Trump's senior adviser and son-in-law, Jared Kushner.

  • The pardons set to be issued before Trump exits the White House will be a mix of criminal justice ones and pardons for people connected to the president, the sources said.
  • CNN first reported this news.

Go deeper: Convicts turn to D.C. fixers for Trump pardons

Schumer's m(aj)ority checklist

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer. Photo: Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images

Capitalizing on the Georgia runoffs, achieving a 50-50 Senate and launching an impeachment trial are weighty to-dos for getting Joe Biden's administration up and running on Day One.

What to watch: A blend of ceremonies, hearings and legal timelines will come into play on Tuesday and Wednesday so Chuck Schumer can actually claim the Senate majority and propel the new president's agenda.