Today, reports indicate that the U.S. Senate Commerce Committee will bring Gigi Sohn, President Biden’s nominee for the Federal Communications Commission, to testify before the panel in a second hearing as the next stage of her confirmation process. Public Knowledge contends this unprecedented, pointless hearing risks giving oxygen to baseless claims slung by industry players at this consumer-focused nominee. We urge members of the Committee to lay bare the real facts of what this hearing is about – hobbling the FCC at a time when it has so much important work to do – and to call on Chairwoman Maria Cantwell (D-WA) to request that Ms. Sohn withdraw her recusal.
The following can be attributed to Chris Lewis, President and CEO of Public Knowledge:
“First, we at Public Knowledge wish Sen. Ben Ray Luján (D-NM) a speedy recovery. He is a thoughtful and experienced public servant. His presence is missed. It is unfortunate that his absence was seen by some as a reason to hold a second hearing on Gigi Sohn’s nomination, particularly when the Committee could use the time as an opportunity to consider moving forward on privacy, spectrum, or a host of other issues pent up at the Committee.
“Reports indicate that the hearing will focus on a recusal Ms. Sohn voluntarily entered into despite the Office of Government Ethics and the FCC’s General Counsel concluding no recusal was needed. Since her nomination back in October of last year, Ms. Sohn has reached out to meet with every member on the Commerce Committee; she fielded all questions members asked of her during a nomination hearing; and she responded to questions members had, including the specific question that would be the subject of this hearing. To be clear: The hearing scheduled for next Wednesday seems like nothing more than an opportunity to give these baseless concerns raised by industry an opportunity to hobble the appointment of a consumer champion to the Commission.
“Perhaps one way to avoid that consequence would be for members to call on Chairwoman Cantwell to request that Ms. Sohn withdraw her recusal letter and follow historic precedent, which is to accept the advice of the Office of Government Ethics and the FCC’s General Counsel. That outcome could produce a modicum of benefit from this otherwise senseless hearing.
“The FCC has not had a full five member commission for the entire Biden administration and that has stalled key consumer protection priorities that President Biden has raised. Millions of Americans lack quality, high-speed broadband, and, yet, the FCC still doesn’t have authority over broadband a year into this administration. It’s time for a vote and a fully functioning FCC.”
Members of the media may contact Communications Director Shiva Stella with inquiries, interview requests, or to join the Public Knowledge press list at firstname.lastname@example.org or 405-249-9435.