Senate Commerce Committee Sets Vote On Obama’s FCC Nominees

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The Senate Commerce Committee has scheduled a July 21 vote on the nominations of Mignon Clyburn and Meredith Attwell Baker to the Federal Communications Commission.

The pair are expected to be confirmed after a fairly uneventful nomination hearing on July 15, at which both were praised and several senators expressed their support and belief the two would not have a problem securing their seats.

Baker, a Republican, is the former head of the National Telecommunications and Information Administration; while Clyburn, a Democrat, is a South Carolina public utility regulator and daughter of the House majority whip, Rep. James Clyburn (D-S.C.).

While President Obama’s picks for the last two open FCC seats did not get much of a grilling at last week’s nomination hearing, senators were given until 6 p.m. Friday, July 17, to submit any written questions for the nominees.

Both are expected to get committee approval, but how soon the full Senate follows suit could depend on how they answer those written questions. The full-Senate approval of both new FCC chairman Julius Genachowski and renominated Republican Robert McDowell, though never really in question, was delayed by questions that required some follow-up.

The nominees agreed during their hearing that broadband deployment was a key goal. Baker focused on incentives to business “to build out broadband faster.”

Baker said she favored getting broadband to unserved areas first, dovetailing with the cable industry’s position.

Clyburn agreed to the focus on unserved areas, but in her opening statement suggested that the keys to broadband service are high speeds and affordability.

On the issue of network neutrality, both said they supported an open Internet, but neither would jump on the regulatory bandwagon.

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