Sources had indicated that Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) was the one who blocked an effort by Senate Republicans and Democrats Wednesday to confirm the FCC nominees by unanimous consent -- and that turns out to have been the case.
A Cruz spokesperson confirmed Thursday that the Senate will hold up the nomination of former NCTA president Tom Wheeler (pictured) as the next chairman, and effectively the nomination of Republican Michael O'Rielly to fill the open Republican seat, until he gets a better answer to a question he asked about the DISCLOSE Act at Wheeler's nomination hearing.
“The Senator is holding the nominee until he gets answers to his questions regarding Mr. Wheeler’s views on whether the FCC has the authority or intent to implement the requirements of the failed Congressional DISCLOSE Act," said Cruz communications director Sean Rushton. "Mr. Wheeler had previously declined to give specific answers, but as he’s now expressed his readiness to revisit the Senator’s questions, the Senator hopes to communicate with him soon.”
Some Hill Democrats have pushed the FCC to step in to boost on-air disclosures of ads by PACS and other groups, something Cruz and other Republicans see as a potential end run around the DISCLOSE Act.
Wheeler initially said that he was aware of the issue, and the passions in Congress surrounding it, and would need to learn more about it. He also pointed out that there is an open proceeding so he is limited in what he can say.
It only takes one senator to put an indefinite hold on a nomination, so it will now be up to Sen. Cruz when that nomination proceeds, as well as that of O'Rielly, since Democrats won't approve his nomination to the Republican seat until Wheeler is cleared for a vote.