As President Donald Trump exits the White House in January, Republicans are rushing to put their stamp on tech policy in his final weeks. These efforts could have lasting effects into the Joe Biden era, curtailing the incoming administration’s ability to execute its agenda, according to Politico.
The Senate GOP is trying to install Trump’s FCC nominee Nathan Simington at the five-member agency to replace the outgoing Commissioner Michael O’Rielly. If successful, the move would deadlock the Commissioners 2-2 and delay Biden’s ability to form an immediate Democratic majority. The next FCC monthly meeting is December 10, and the first one in January is on the 13th. Those dates come before current Chair Ajit Pai plans to leave the agency on January 20.
The Senate Commerce Committee plans to vote on Simington’s nomination tomorrow — a step closer to full Senate confirmation.
However, it’s more likely that President-elect Joe Biden and the Senate will work out a deal to pair one Democrat and one Republican to fill the Commission’s two empty seats sometime in 2021. Inside Towers recently quoted Blair Levin, former chief of staff for Chairman Reed Hundt, as believing in this traditional scenario, which would eventually give the Democrats a 3-2 majority. Until then, there would be three remaining Commissioners, with Brendan Carr as the sole Republican.
Democrats also want Republicans to stop work on any controversial regulation, Inside Towers reported. Last week Democratic congressional leaders wrote letters to Pai and FTC Chair Joe Simons asking about converting political appointees to career staff, according to Ars Technica. The so-called practice of “burrowing” would retain certain personnel under Biden.