Sens. Markey, Wyden Put Hold on Rosenworcel

Markey questions commissioner's pro-consumer, pro-competition commitment

There are now a pair of holds on a Senate vote on the nomination of Jessica Rosenworcel, and they are from members of her own party. Any senator can block a nomination by issuing such a hold.

A spokesperson for the Senate Commerce Committee Republican majority identified the holds as being placed by Sens. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) and Ron Wyden (D-ore.).

“Bipartisan technology legislation passed by the Commerce Committee should not face further delay from the Senate Minority Leader over a nominee Senate Democrats are now blocking," they said. Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) had vowed that a mobile broadband spectrum bill would not get a vote while Rosenworcel's renomination vote was not scheduled for a vote in the full Senate. Looks now like Reid may have to talk to his own party about that. Other communications bills in the Senate Commerce Committee have also backed up behind that Reid pledge, according to sources.

A spokesperson for Markey's office confirmed the holds and explained them this way: "Sen. Markey wants a commissioner who is  unequivocally committed to pro-consumer and pro-competition policies. Recent actions from Commissioner Rosenworcel on the proposed set-top box rule and other items have called that commitment into question."

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Rosenworcel was widely believed to have had ongoing reservations about the set-top box proposal's impact on copyright and contracts, reservations not shared by FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler.

The set-top proposal was pulled from the FCC open meeting agenda after Wheeler could not get three votes, but it remains on circulation and could still be voted, though Republicans have signaled they don't want any 11th-hour regulating from the outgoing administration's agencies, executive or independent.

If Rosenworcel's renomination does not get a confirmation vote in the lame duck Senate, she will have to leave in early January.

Rosenworcel's renomination to a second, five-year, term was unanimously approved by the Senate Commerce Committee.

A Rosenworcel spokesperson had no comment on the holds or Markey's characterization.