Pai was to have been interviewed in a "Fireside Chat" with CES President Gary Shapiro, which has become something of a tradition. But Pai's office said the government shutdown—and uncertainty about how long it would last—precipitated the decision.
It is not clear whether Commissioner Brendan Carr, who also planned to attend to kick the tires on new tech, will be making the trip or canceling due to the shutdown. Carr's office was not available for comment.
Commissioners are still able to work in the office because they are essential personnel, but travel budgets are expected to be curtailed during a shutdown.
“Because of the government shutdown, some of our scheduled government speakers at CES® 2019 have alerted us that they must cancel their travel to the show," said Shapiro. "As a result, some of our scheduled CES 2019 programming and speakers will change. We urge attendees who planned to hear U.S. federal government speakers to check the sessions on the website to ensure those individuals are still speaking. Our Speakers Directory can be found here. This page will be updated regularly.”
Pai canceled his CES appearance last year and while the FCC would neither confirm nor deny the reason for last year's cancellation, it appeared to be related to death threats he had received related to the FCC's December 2017 vote to roll back net neutrality rules.