Senate approves FCC nominees Pai, Rosenworcel

The Senate on Monday confirmed President Barack Obama's two nominees to the Federal Communications Commission, a move that will bring the FCC back to its full complement of five commissioners.

Ajit Pai, FCCJessica Rosenworcel

Pai (left) and Rosenworcel

In a unanimous-consent vote Monday, the Democratic-controlled Senate approved the long-pending nominations of Ajit Varadaraj Pai and Jessica Rosenworcel to the federal regulatory agency with broad powers over the telecom sector, among other industries.

Pai, 39, is a former FCC deputy general counsel and Senate staff member. He previously served as chief counsel to the Senate Judiciary Committee's Subcommittee on Civil Rights and as senior counsel at the Office of Legal Policy at the U.S. Justice Department. Pai is a partner in the Litigation Department of Jenner & Block LLP.

Rosenworcel, 40, is senior communications counsel for the Senate Commerce Committee. She served as legal counsel to the FCC Wireline Bureau chief from 2002 to 2003.

Steve Largent, president and CEO of CTIA-The Wireless Association, issued a statement congratulating the nominees. Largent said, "their knowledge of communications issues and their experience in Washington will make them great assets for the commission."

In a separate statement, Gary Shapiro, president and CEO of the Consumer Electronics Association, said Rosenworcel and Pai "each have a deep understanding of technology policy and will be excellent FCC commissioners."

Obama announced the nominations Oct. 31.

The Senate Commerce Committee, in December, voted to send the nominations to the full Senate for consideration.

A vote, however, was blocked by Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) amid his unrelated concern that the FCC hastily approved a controversial waiver for LightSquared to build a national wireless network. Grassley lifted his hold after receiving the documents he sought.

Rosenworcel will take the seat of former Democratic commissioner Michael Copps, who resigned in December; Pai will replace former Republican commissioner Meredith Attwell Baker, who resigned in June 2011 to join Comcast (Nasdaq: CMCSA) as its senior vice president of governmental affairs at its NBCUniversal unit.

For more:
- see the CTIA statement
- see the CEA statement

Related articles:
Senate panel approves FCC nominees, but Grassley threatens to block vote
FCC nominees greeted warmly, but pressed on AT&T/T-Mobile staff report
FCC's Meredith Atwell Baker headed to Comcast job