Adelstein Breezes Through Hearing

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The Senate Communications Subcommittee needed less than an hour last Tuesday to quiz Jonathan Adelstein on his nomination to the Federal Communications Commission.

Paula Ford, an aide to Senate Commerce Committee chairman Sen. Fritz Hollings (D-S.C.), said the full committee planned to vote on Adelstein's nomination "as quickly as possible."

Adelstein, 39, is a policy adviser to Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle (D-S.D.). If confirmed, he would become the second Democrat on the FCC, which is controlled by three Republicans under chairman Michael Powell.

Adelstein's nomination was held up for six months due to Senate politics. Senate Minority Leader Trent Lott (R-Miss.) said Adelstein wasn't qualified for the job not long after his Mississippi friend, U.S. Judge Thomas Pickering, was rejected by the Senate Judiciary Committee for a seat on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit.

More recently, Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) threatened to stall nomination votes until an ally is appointed to the Federal Elections Commission.

Nevertheless, McCain at the hearing praised Adelstein as someone "fully qualified" for the job who would put the interests of consumers first.

"I think he brings the right experience and credentials to the job," McCain said.

McCain spokeswoman Pia Pialorsi said McCain still intends to block all nominations until President Bush awards an FEC recess appointment to Ellen Weintraub, who McCain hopes will implement recently passed campaign-finance reform legislation to his liking.

A SLOW ROLL

That might not delay things for long, though. Appearing on NBC's Meet the Press
on July 14, McCain said he expects Daschle and Lott will be able to muster the 60 votes needed to defeat his parliamentary delaying tactics.

"They'll overcome me," McCain said. "They'll roll me, but slowly."

Adelstein holds two degrees from Stanford University, a bachelor's in political science and a master's in history. He has spent his entire professional career working as a Senate staffer, the last seven for Daschle, who attended the hearing to introduce Adelstein formally to the subcommittee.

"In all my time in public life, I have never presented a nominee with greater confidence and with greater enthusiasm," Daschle said.

In his testimony, Adelstein promised to look out for rural Americans and "enhance competition, promote universal access, and manage the public spectrum efficiently."

He said he agreed with McCain and Powell that the telecommunications industry is in crisis, and regulators must craft policies to revive the sector.

"If we don't have investor confidence in this sector, it is going to be difficult to raise the capital need to continue to maintain America's leadership," Adelstein said.

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