White House Nominates O'Rielly To FCC

Longtime Hill Staffer to Succeed Robert McDowell in Republican Seat

As expected, the White House has nominated longtime Republican congressional communications policy adviser Michael P.O'Rielly to be the next Republican commissioner of the FCC.

He will fill out the remaining term of Republican Robert McDowell, which runs through July 1, 2014, after which he will have to be renominated. The Senate is preparing to exit for its August break, so O'Rielly likely won't be joining the FCC before late summer or early fall.

O'Rielly is policy adviser to Senate minority whip John Cornwyn (R-Tex.), and was a top tech/telecom policy adviser to former Sen. John Sununu (R-N.H.) and former Rep. Tom Bliley (R-Va.).

The choice was the President's, but by custom dating to the Clinton White House, the president usually defers to the choice of Republican Senate leaders.

O'Rielly's nomination must still be vetted and approved by the Senate Commerce Committee, which should pave the way fora full-Senate vote, and almost certainly approval, of both O'Rielly and chairman nominee Tom Wheeler, barring a hold,which can be placed by a single, unidentified senator.

If there were a hold on Wheeler, for example, O'Rielly would be highly unlikely to get a vote on his nomination in the meantime.

Sen. Ted Cruz has identified himself as one senator who has issues with Wheeler. He voted no on his confirmation in the Senate Communications Subcommittee, and warned that he may delay a vote until he gets a better answer from Wheeler onthe FCC's authority to boost political ad disclosures. Cruz dos not want the FCC to follow the advice of some Democratsto do through regulation what Congress failed to do via the Democrat-backed Disclose Act.

The other FCC Republican, Ajit Pai, also a former Hill staffer, sounded happy to have some help on the way.

"I congratulate Mike O’Rielly on his nomination to serve as an FCC Commissioner," he said in a statement. "His expertise, experience, and fresh perspective will be a tremendous asset to the Commission as we confront the many challenging issues on our agenda. I look forward to working with him and wish him all the best during the confirmation process. "

“We congratulate Mike O’Rielly on being nominated to serve as a Commissioner on the Federal Communications Commission," the National Cable & Telecommunications Association said in a statement. "As a longtime congressional aide, Mike brings not only a wealth of political experience, but also a deep appreciation for policies that will promote continued innovation and private investment in communications markets.  As he continues his distinguished career in public service once confirmed by the Senate, we look forward to working with him in this new capacity."

"On behalf of the wireless industry, we congratulate Mike on his nomination," echoed Steve Largent, CTIA-The Wireless Association President. "Once confirmed, the Commission will benefit from his impressive depth of experience in telecommunications, consistent commitment to public service and keen understanding of the vast importance that wireless broadband drives our economy. We look forward to working with Mike on the broad range of important spectrum and other wireless telecom matters that are pending before the Commission and are vital to Americans continuing to enjoy the benefits provided by the world’s leading wireless industry.”
When O'Rielly and Wheeler are installed, the FCC will be at its five-member full strength.