FCC Chairman Ajit Pai to Depart Following Biden Inauguration

 Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai will leave the Federal Communications Commission on January 20, 2021.

  • FCC

WASHINGTON -- Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai will leave the Federal Communications Commission on January 20, 2021.

Chairman Pai issued the following statement: “It has been the honor of a lifetime to serve at the Federal Communications Commission, including as Chairman of the FCC over the past four years. I am grateful to President Trump for giving me the opportunity to lead the agency in 2017, to President Obama for appointing me as a Commissioner in 2012, and to Senate Majority Leader McConnell and the Senate for twice confirming me. To be the first Asian-American to chair the FCC has been a particular privilege. As I often say: only in America."

 

“I also deeply appreciate the chance to have worked alongside the FCC’s talented staff. They are the agency’s best assets, and they have performed heroically, especially during the pandemic. It’s also been an honor to work with my fellow Commissioners to execute a strong and broad agenda. Together, we’ve delivered for the American people over the past four years: closing the digital divide; promoting innovation and competition, from 5G on the ground to broadband from space; protecting consumers; and advancing public safety. And this FCC has not shied away from making tough choices. As a result, our nation’s communications networks are now faster, stronger, and more widely deployed than ever before.

“I am proud of how productive this Commission has been, from commencing five spectrum auctions and two rural broadband reverse auctions in four years, to opening 1,245 megahertz of mid-band spectrum for unlicensed use, to adopting more than 25 orders through our Modernization of Media Regulation Initiative, to aggressively protecting our communications networks from national security threats at home and abroad, to designating 988 as the three-digit number for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, and much, much more. I’m also proud of the reforms we have instituted to make the agency more accountable to the American people. In particular, for the first time ever, we’ve made public drafts of the proposals and orders slated for a vote three weeks before the agency’s monthly meetings, making this the most transparent FCC in history.

“Last but not least, I want to thank my family for all they have done to enable me to serve at the agency. The public service of one generally results from the private sacrifice of many, and I’m grateful for their love and support.”

With Pai set to leave in January, the FCC will shift to a 3-2 Democratic majority. Reports from Variety and other media outlets have suggested possible replacements to assume the Chairman position under the Biden administration.

Jessica Rosenworcel, the senior Democrat on the commission, is seen by observers to be a likely candidate to take over from Ajit Pai. She has already served as a commissioner for two terms and would have an easy pathway to being confirmed by what may be a Republican-led Senate.

During her terms as an FCC commissioner, Rosenworcel was a voice for key regulatory measures such as net neutrality, overturning state laws that inhibited municipal broadband and changing the definition of broadband from 4 Mbps to 25 Mbps. She was also proponent of finding ways to close the ‘homework gap’ and expanding internet access to all students long before the COVID-19 pandemic hit.

Another possible candidate is former FCC commissioner Mignon Clyburn, who served on the agency between 2009-18. Clyburn is the daughter of House Majority Whip James Clyburn, a congressman who endorsed Joe Biden’s presidential bid. Also, Mignon Clyburn has been named to Biden’s transition team for the FCC.

Other potential picks Biden could consider are Edward “Smitty” Smith, a partner at DLA Piper in Washington, DC. Smith previously served as an adviser to former FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler.

Biden could also consider Anna Gomez, a partner at Wiley Rein, a major D.C. law firm involved in communications issues. Gomez previously served as an official at the National Telecommunications and Information Administration until 2013, and earlier worked in various roles at the FCC. She has also been named to the Biden transition’s agency review team for the Department of Commerce.

 

 

 

Ajit Pai

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