Last week’s contentious vote on Lifeline reform, remarkable for playing out so publically, not only highlighted flaws in the FCC’s administrative practices but also reflected how polarized the political climate has become at the FCC and other agencies.
Three weeks before the March Open Committee meeting, the FCC released a fact sheet containing details of the draft Lifeline order that unleashed torrents of comments on the proposed changes from beneficiaries and lawmakers. While Commissioners Pai and O’Rielly contend that last minute lobbying from Congress scuttled last ditch efforts at a bipartisan compromise, it is unclear whether withholding the fact sheet could have quieted the storm since, as DWT’s Danielle Frappier observed in Law 360,
Process reform could help, but I think generally the culture of politics in our country is moving toward the more extreme end of things and this is part of that, on both sides.”
Expect to see more 3-2 votes as the FCC wraps up items on Chairmen Wheeler’s to do list.