FCC Confirmation Saga Continues

Publish date:

Washington — It is looking more likely that
when the Federal Communications Commission releases
documents on LightSquared’s proposed 4G
wireless-broadband network to the House Energy &
Commerce Committee, as it has signaled it will, the
threatened hold on two nominees to the agency will
be lifted.

According to a well-placed source, supporters of
the nominees to two open FCC seats — Repulican Ajit
Pai and Democrat
Jessica Rosenworcel
— are pushing
for some action on
the nominations
before the Easter
break. The impediment
to that action
could be ready to
move as well.

That “action”
would be full-Senate
confirmation of the
president’s nominees,
since both
sailed through their
Senate Commerce
Committee hearing
vote with bipartisan

Standing in the
way has been Sen.
Charles Grassley (R-Iowa), mad at the FCC for not giving
up documents related to the LightSquared matter
and for not making agency staff members available to
talk with his staff about the waiver it granted to that
company to build its proposed satellite-based 4G network.
Grassley was concerned that the FCC rushed
through the waiver — which has since been rescinded
— without sufficiently vetting how the 4G service
would aff ect satellite-based global positioning systems.

The FCC has declined Grassley’s request because
he is not the chair of a relevant oversight committee.

Grassley’s shadow remains over the nominations,
but now that one of those ranking chairmen, Rep. Fred
Upton (R-Mich.), has asked for LightSquared documents,
and a committee member indicated Upton
would share them, Grassley’s office signaled to Multichannel
last week that could break the logjam,
even if the FCC does not make the staffers available.

“Sen. Grassley wants the documents he requested,
and one of the House members who has requested
documents from the FCC said he’ll share them with
Sen. Grassley,” a Grassley spokeswoman said. “If Sen.
Grassley receives access to the documents, he’d consider
releasing his hold on the nominees.”

That “consider” still leaves wiggle room, but the
staff er indicated that doesn’t mean Grassley would
not still be unhappy with the FCC, only that he would
let the nominees proceed while still being unhappy.

That would leave the nominees in the clear so long
as they were not then victims of the ongoing general
partisan battle between Hill Republicans and Democrats
over nominations — Republicans are still
smarting over the President’s “recess” appointment
of Richard Cordray as head of the new Consumer
Financial Protection Agency.