Jessica Rosenworcel became the first permanent chairwoman of the FCC following Senate confirmation today of her new five-year term as a commissioner.
She had been appointed acting chair by President Joe Biden shortly after he took office, and he appointed her permanent chair last month, but the timing of the permanent appointment closely coincided with the expiration of her second five-year term and she had to be re-approved by the Senate to remain on the commission.
Rosenworcel has served as FCC commissioner since 2012, with an interruption in her tenure of several months in 2017 when her initial appointment expired, and she awaited reconfirmation.
Since joining the FCC, Rosenworcel has argued for the establishment of “audacious” broadband goals, arguing that the FCC broadband speed target should be 100 Mbps rather than the current 25/3 Mbps speed definition.
She was appointed to the FCC by President Obama when Tom Wheeler was FCC chairman. She supported a range of pro-Net Neutrality measures imposed at that time. Some of those measures were largely undone under FCC Chairman Ajit Pai’s administration and some industry observers were expecting the new administration to try to reimpose them.
That hasn’t happened, at least not yet, perhaps because the commission has had only four commissioners since early this year — two Democratic appointees and two Republican appointees. As a result, no initiatives favored primarily by one party have been addressed. And despite Rosenworcel’s approval, that will still be the case for a while because the Senate has not yet confirmed Biden’s nomination of Gigi Sohn for the fifth spot.
“It is a tremendous honor to be confirmed and designated as the first permanent Chairwoman of the Federal Communications Commission,” Rosenworcel said in a prepared statement following the Senate confirmation of her new five-year term. “I would like to thank President Biden for the opportunity. People across the country count on the FCC to support the connections they need for work, learning, healthcare, and access to the information we require to make decisions about our lives, our communities, and our country. I look forward to working with the Administration, my colleagues on the Commission and FCC staff, members of Congress, and the public to make the promise of modern communications a reality for everyone, everywhere.”
Joan Engebretson contributed to this report.