Today, the U.S. Senate voted to confirm Nathan Simington to the Federal Communications Commission effectively deadlocking the agency until the Senate confirms a candidate for the fifth seat on the commission. According to reports, a long term, deadlocked FCC was the goal of Senate leadership, a position that could jeopardize every technology initiative from expanding affordable broadband access to reinstating net neutrality rules. This step prevents the new administration from pairing a Commissioner nomination with a nomination of the opposing party, as is tradition.
Simington’s confirmation will likely prevent the agency from doing all it can to help Americans access the internet during the pandemic. Additionally, a deadlocked FCC will be unable to ensure that rural Americans get broadband access, communications networks work during emergencies, and those who don’t live near a doctor can access telehealth. Public Knowledge argues that this is unacceptable — gaming the system only hurts us at a time when we all need our technology and internet access to work the most.
The following can be attributed to Greg Guice, Director of Government Affairs at Public Knowledge:
“Nathan Simington’s confirmation to the FCC risks the agency’s ability to function effectively and will likely result in painful consequences for consumers who rely on broadband — and that means everyone.
“From ensuring children can access distancing learning tools to helping seniors interact with their doctors through telehealth services, the FCC is chiefly responsible for keeping families connected to their communities. A deadlocked FCC jeopardizes this work and is unacceptable during a pandemic.
“We urge the next Congress to quickly confirm President-elect Biden’s nomination to fill the fifth commissioner’s seat. Americans deserve — and need — a functioning FCC now more than ever.”