The U.S. Senate confirmed Tuesday the nomination of a new chairman to the U.S. Federal Communications Commission.
The confirmation of Tom Wheeler as chairman and Michael O’Rielly as a commissioner ends a deadlock over the appointment of two key FCC executives, after Republican lawmakers withdrew their opposition.
Commissioner Mignon L. Clyburn was named as acting FCC chairwoman in May after Julius Genachowski, chairman since 2009, decided to step down earlier this year.
Wheeler is a former investor and head of telecommunications industry groups. President Barack Obama said, when announcing Wheeler as his choice in May, that “for more than 30 years, Tom has been at the forefront of some of the very dramatic changes that we’ve seen in the way we communicate and how we live our lives.”
Mobile industry group CTIA congratulated Wheeler and O’Rielly on Tuesday on their confirmation by the Senate.
“We are energized to work with the full panel of Commissioners at a time when the agency looks to deliver much-needed spectrum to fuel the deployment of mobile broadband services and maintain our global leadership in the mobile wireless ecosystem,” the wireless industry association said in a statement.
Republican Senator Ted Cruz earlier on Tuesday said he had removed a hold on Wheeler’s nomination after the nominee reassured him during a meeting that regulation of campaign funding disclosures, without Congressional action, was “not a priority.”
There were also concerns raised that Wheeler would promote industry rather than consumer interests. Gigi B. Sohn, president and CEO at Public Knowledge, a consumer rights group, said the organization looked forward to working with Wheeler. “We expect that he will work to preserve a strong FCC that will ensure an open, universally accessible and affordable communications system that serves all Americans,” Sohn said in a statement about the confirmation.
“We also expect that he will carry out the President’s communications policy agenda, which includes robust open Internet requirements, vigorous broadband competition, affordable broadband access, diversity of voices and serious consumer protections, all backed by vigorous agency enforcement,” she added.