FCC Chairman Ajit Pai’s confirmation for a new five-year term appears to be all but sealed as the U.S. Senate voted 55 to 41 on Thursday to advance his nomination.
His approval comes in the face of criticism by Democrats over his actions related to net neutrality and easing media ownership rules during his short tenure.
On Monday, the Senate is expected to vote on the final approval of Pai’s next term.
Pai’s nomination and role as FCC Chairman has garnered mixed reactions.
Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Fla., ranking member of the Senate Commerce Committee, said Pai is working to pave the way to take away consumer protections and place restrictions on how consumers access the internet.
“The vast majority of the actions of Chairman Pai have served to eliminate competitive protections, threaten dangerous industry consolidation, make the internet less free and less open, and weaken critical consumer protections for those most vulnerable,” Nelson said, according to a Variety report.
Alternatively, Republican lawmakers that say he brings a fresh take and openness to the regulatory process.
Sen. John Thune, R-S.D., the chairman of the Senate Commerce Committee, said that Pai was a “breath of fresh air” following Tom Wheeler, who he said made policy decisions based on political lines.
“Chairman Pai has already made much needed reform to improve much needed processes at the FCC, and to empower his fellow commissioners,” Thune said.
Free Press and Demand Progress have called upon senators to vote against Pai’s confirmation.
Pai, who was one of the lone dissenters in the 2015 net neutrality rules passed by the FCC, has vowed to create what he said is a light-touch regulatory regime that would reclassify broadband as a Title I information service.