Late last week, members of the Senate Commerce Committee voted 14-13 along party lines to approve the nomination of FCC Commissioner Brendan Carr to serve a full, five-year term at the agency. Noting, however, that the White House still has yet to re-nominate FCC Commissioner Mignon Clyburn or name another Democrat who would assume Clyburn’s FCC seat, Senate sources acknowledged that the schedule for a confirmation vote on the Senate floor remains unclear.
Carr—a Republican who has served as a commissioner at the FCC since August—was re-nominated by President Trump earlier this month to serve a full, five-year term at the agency that would run through June 30, 2023. Although the Carr nomination was advanced to the Senate floor without debate, several unnamed lawmakers noted that all 13 Democrats on the Commerce Committee panel cited the lack of a paired Democratic nominee in voting against Carr. Observers also confirmed that a second factor weighing against Democratic approval was Carr’s recent vote with the FCC’s Republican majority to rescind the 2015 Open Internet Order and thereby restore the classification of broadband Internet access as a Title I information service.
Despite the partisan committee vote, Senator Brian Schatz (D-HI) told reporters “it’s very likely” that Democrats will support a floor vote to confirm Carr if and when Carr is paired with a Democratic nominee to the FCC. Emphasizing, “we want a full complement on the Commission,” Senate Commerce Committee Chairman John Thune (R-SD) voiced hopes that “we can pair” Carr and a Democratic nominee quickly “so we can do this the way we have traditionally and historically done it.” Carr, meanwhile, thanked the committee for acting on his nomination, pledging, “if reconfirmed, I look forward to continuing to advance policies that will create jobs, spur investment and grow the economy for the benefit of all Americans.”