Net Neutrality May Return, As Biden Seeks FCC Commissioner Confirmation

President Biden’s attempt to get confirmation of final FCC commissioner faces opposition, as it will return regulator to democrat control

The battle to restore net neutrality rules continues to be a deeply political issue that cuts across Democrat and Republican party lines in the United States.

President Biden is seeking to appoint the last FCC commissioner, which will take the Federal Communications Commission’s five-member panel from being republican controlled, back to the control of democrats.

Jessica Rosenworcel, Biden’s choice to lead the federal agency, has already been confirmed by the Senate, CNBC has reported. But Republicans are reportedly pushing back against the nomination of Gigi Sohn to join the five-member panel, and are seeking to cast her as a partisan figure.

internet net neutrality (C) Peshkova - Shutterstock

Net neutrality

Sohn was a top aide to Tom Wheeler, the FCC chairman who oversaw net neutrality’s first implementation in 2015, under President Obama (when Biden was Vice President).

President Biden in the summer came under pressure from campaign groups and tech players to act with ‘urgency’ to nominate a fifth commissioner to ensure a fully FCC, and restore the net neutrality rules that were cast down in 2017 under the Republican controlled FCC of President Donald Trump and FCC former chairman Ajit Pai.

A Biden appointee could give Democrats the extra vote as they seek to reinstate net neutrality regulations.

President Biden has made clear that, if he gets his way, the Trump administration’s efforts to unwind the rules won’t stand.

In July, Biden reportedly issued an executive order on competition, encouraging the FCC to consider rulemaking to reinstate net neutrality.

Senate decision

But the confirmation of the final commissioner, Sohn, is in the Senate’s hands, and in their questioning of Sohn, Republicans have argued she would be biased against broadcast networks and conservative views, CNBC reported.

They pointed to past tweets she posted criticizing Fox News as well as her involvement as a board member in a nonprofit online TV service that shut down after losing a lawsuit from broadcast networks.

Sohn testified that her past comments and experiences would not sway her actions as a commissioner.