More than halfway through President Biden’s four-year term as president, the FCC finally has a full complement of commissioners. The Senate today confirmed Anna Gomez for the fifth spot on the commission, which has been largely deadlocked since Biden took office.
Gomez was Biden’s second choice to fill the vacant spot when former FCC Chair Ajit Pai left with the change in administration. Biden’s initial nominee Gigi Sohn faced strong opposition for over a year before withdrawing herself from the running in March.
In May, Biden nominated Gomez, who faced less opposition. Gomez is a veteran of both the FCC and NTIA. Most recently, she was a senior advisor for International Information and Communications Policy in the State Department’s Bureau of Cyberspace and Digital Policy.
Traditionally the political party that holds the White House has the majority on the commission, enabling the commission to advance that party’s objectives. No more than three commissioners can be nominees from the same party. Since Biden took office, there have been two Democratic nominees and two Republican nominees on the commission. As a result, no controversial actions have been taken by the FCC.
“Anna brings with her a wealth of telecommunications experience, a substantial record of public service, and a history of working to ensure the United States stays on the cutting edge of keeping us all connected,” said FCC Chair Jessica Rosenworcel in a prepared statement.
“Her international expertise will be a real asset to the agency. I look forward to working with her to advance the agency’s mission to ensure the benefits of modern communications reach everyone, everywhere and that the United States can continue to lead in the digital age.”
Many stakeholders within the telecom industry have been arguing that a fifth commissioner is needed so that important decisions can be made. Unsurprisingly, numerous telecom associations issued statements congratulating Gomez on her achievement, while also referencing their own hot button policy objectives.
Here are just a few of the statements that were issued today.
“NTCA and its hundreds of community-based members are eager to work with [Gomez] in her new role to advance the FCC’s mission of universal service for all Americans,” said Shirley Bloomfield, CEO of NTCA—The Rural Broadband Association.
“The broadband community remains committed to working with her and the Commission toward our shared goal of building our connected future as quickly and efficiently as possible,” said Jonathan Spalter, president & CEO of USTelecom – The Broadband Association.
According to ACA Connects President and CEO Grant Spellmeyer, Gomez “has demonstrated her expertise, leadership, and sound decision making.”
He added that “We look forward to working with her as the FCC seeks to close the broadband availability and adoption gaps, and to ensure that our small and rural member companies continue to operate in a regulatory environment that enables their enormous investment in reliable, robust broadband infrastructure to meet the needs of consumers.”
Matt Mandel, vice president of government affairs at WISPA – Broadband Without Boundaries, said Gomezhas “years of experience and immense talents [that] have commanded universal respect from the telecom and consumer communities, and we are excited to begin working with her on the weighty communications matters of today and tomorrow.”
CTIA President and CEO Meredith Attwell Baker noted that Gomez has had“an exceptional public service career, underpinned by a keen understanding of policy and regulatory landscapes.”
Baker added that “Her proven track record in government oversight of spectrum management will be invaluable to ensuring America’s continued wireless leadership and expanding broadband access for all Americans. We look forward to working with the Commission to get much-needed licensed spectrum to market so we can fuel the next wave of 5G innovation, meet growing data demands and secure the future of America’s economy.”
Michael Powell, President & CEO, NCTA – The Internet & Television Association, said Gomez “has earned a reputation for being thoughtful about policy and addressing issues with an open mind” and that NCTA is ready to work with her on “the most important issue of the day – bringing high-speed internet to all.”