US President Donald Trump’s pick for the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Nathan Simington (pictured) won approval from Congress, despite warnings his confirmation could leave the agency politically deadlocked.
Simington takes a seat vacated by Commissioner Michael O’Rielly, whose nomination for a third term was withdrawn by President Trump earlier this year.
In a statement, FCC chairman Ajit Pai said Simington was “well-positioned to hit the ground running”, adding his roots in a rural community meant “this important perspective will continue to be represented on the Commission for years to come”.
Industry group CTIA CEO Meredith Attwell Baker also welcomed the move, stating Simington had “shown a keen recognition of the value of competition and private investment in securing US leadership in broadband, a commitment to universal connectivity and a focus on ensuring our communications networks remain secure”.
His appointment means the five-member FCC will be left with an equal political split between Republicans and Democrats after Pai leaves in January, with two members of each party.
This will only be broken if President-elect Joe Biden’s pick for Pai’s replacement is approved by Congress, though US media speculated the incoming president may face resistance from the institution’s Republican majority.
Democrats almost unanimously opposed Simington’s appointment, with Senator Ron Wyden deriding him in a tweet as “unqualified” and Senator Richard Blumenthal warning in a Facebook post his “confirmation would throw sand in the gears of the FCC” and prevent action on key issues including net neutrality.Subscribe to our daily newsletter Back