On September 15, The Hill published an op-ed by Digital Liberty Executive Director James Erwin, refuting the argument that the Senate must rush to confirm flawed nominee Gigi Sohn to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) because the FCC cannot function properly without all five commissioners. As the op-ed argues:
Such a claim would be utterly disingenuous; the FCC has operated with fewer than five commissioners for more than 25 percent of its existence. Nevertheless, it has had no trouble fulfilling its mission, and any fair examination of the FCC’s record since President Biden’s inauguration would demonstrate that the agency is perfectly capable of doing its job with four commissioners.
Erwin summarizes the controversies surrounding the Sohn nomination and how she has disqualified herself from serving on such a powerful and important governing body:
Sohn benefitted from copyright violations committed by a nonprofit on whose board she sat and was associated with organizations that harassed former FCC Chair Ajit Pai over net neutrality. Sohn testified that “policymakers have focused disproportionately on broadband deployment in rural areas of the United States,” despite the fact that the most underserved Americans live in rural areas.
The article goes on to document several areas of bipartisan agreement where the evenly-split FCC has had no trouble across party lines to achieve results. These include administering spectrum auctions, updating broadband coverage maps, and reforming permitting and pole attachment regulations. Given the high degree of bipartisan cooperation, there is no immediate need to confirm a fifth commissioner:
Despite lacking a fifth commissioner, the current FCC has proven entirely capable of delivering on numerous bipartisan priorities that will improve connectivity, spur innovation and ensure taxpayer resources are being efficiently spent. Sohn’s radical record is disqualifying on the merits, but no Democrat can say with a straight face that the Biden FCC has been hampered by the 2-2 partisan split.
Erwin concludes that Biden should find a less-radical nominee to replace Sohn if he truly thinks confirming a fifth commissioner is a national priority. Click here to read the full op-ed.