As expected, the U.S. Senate wrapped up its business for the 114th Congress last Friday without conducting a floor vote on Jessica Rosenworcel’s long-pending nomination to a second term as FCC commissioner. Consequently, Rosenworcel will be required to leave her post at the start of the 115th Congress on January 3.
In the spring of 2015, President Obama nominated Rosenworcel—a Democrat who, in 2012, assumed the seat once held by former FCC Commissioner Michael Copps—to a full, five-year term at the agency to expire on June 30, 2020. Although Rosenworcel received a favorable vote at the Senate Commerce Committee in December 2015, efforts to advance a Senate floor vote on Rosenworcel’s nomination stalled as a result of what Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) described as “a number of objections from Senators.” In hopes of spurring Senate action on the Rosenworcel nomination, and pointing to McConnell’s unfulfilled pledge to proceed with a floor vote early in the 114th Congress, outgoing Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) placed a hold on the MOBILE NOW Act (S. 2555), which sought to codify the Obama Administration’s goal of making 500 MHz of federal government spectrum available for commercial wireless use by 2020. Although McConnell is reported to have circulated a recent motion for cloture on the Rosenworcel nomination, Capitol Hill observers affirm that the motion was never filed.
With the adjournment of the 114th Congress, further action on the Rosenworcel nomination ceased, and several pending telecommunications bills, including the MOBILE NOW Act, the FCC Reauthorization Act, and the Securing Access to Networks in Disasters Act, were shelved for lack of action. While finding it “deeply disappointing that the Senate did not reconfirm . . . Rosenworcel,” ranking Senate Commerce Committee member Bill Nelson (D-FL) voiced appreciation for Rosenworcel as “an outstanding public servant whose commitment to the public interest and to American consumers is beyond reproach.”