News

FCC Logjam Could be Loosening

3/05/2012 12:01 AM Eastern

Washington — There appears to be enough movement
on the stalled Federal Communications Commission
nominee front to suggest the commission could soon
be at a full five members.

One hopeful sign was a meeting between staffers for
U.S. Sens. Charles Grassley (R-Iowa) and Jay Rockefeller
(D-W.Va.) about Grassley’s
hold on the nominees,
stemming from
the FCC’s refusal of
Grassley’s request for
documents related to a
commission waiver for
a company called Light-
Squared.

A Grassley representative
said the staffers
talked about the hold
and possible resolution
of the issue. The hold is
delaying nominations of
Democrat Jessica Rosenworcel,
a top Rockefeller
aide, and Republican
Ajit Pai, a communications
attorney and former
FCC official.

Another possible sign of movement came when House
Energy & Commerce Committee chairman Fred Upton
(R-Mich.) made a document request of the FCC similar to
Grassley’s.

The commission had denied Grassley’s request because
he is not one of the chairmen of an FCC oversight committee.
Rockefeller is one of those chairs (of Senate Commerce),
and Upton is the other.

Asked if the agency
would comply with Upton’s request, a spokeperson for FCC chairman Julius Genachowski said in a statement:
“We will continue to cooperate with the committee.” That
was not a definite yes, but it suggested the documents
could be forthcoming.

Grassley signaled that if the FCC does comply, his
hold threat could go away. “[I]t’s too early to tell whether
the FCC will comply with the House request,” he said
last week, [so] I’m maintaining
my hold on the
two FCC nominees until
I receive access to the
documents I requested,
whether that’s from the
FCC, the House Energy
and Commerce Committee,
or the Senate
Commerce Committee.”

The FCC has been
short-staff ed since Meredith
At twell Baker
reduced the commissioner
ranks to four with
her departure for Comcast
last spring. It now
stands at three, after the
retirement of Michael
Copps at the end of December.

September