Senate committee advances FCC nominee Gigi Sohn

The nomination of Alvaro Bedoya to the FTC will also move to a full Senate vote.

POOL New / reuters

The Senate will vote on the nominations of Gigi Sohn to the Federal Communications Commission and Alvaro Bedoya to the Federal Trade Commission, respectively. The Senate Commerce Committee moved forward their nominations, though the 14-14 tie means there will be an additional procedural step for each before a full Senate vote.

Democrats and Republicans each have 50 senators though Vice President Kamala Harris has a tie-breaker vote. Should Sohn and Bedoya be confirmed as commissioners, the Democrats will hold a majority in both the FCC and FTC.

The committee delayed a vote on the nominations after Sen. Ben Ray Luján (D-NM) suffered a stroke in January. Luján, whose vote was needed for Democrats to move the nominations forward, has since returned to work.

President Biden nominated Sohn at the same time he put forward Jessica Rosenworcel as FCC chair in October. While the Senate approved Rosenworcel's permanent appointment in December, Sohn's appointment has taken longer. As such, the FCC has been deadlocked at 2-2 along party lines, leaving Rosenworcel unable to, among other things, advance a net neutrality policy.

Opposition to the nomination of Sohn, a longtime advocate for net neutrality, has come from a number of quarters, including the Directors Guild of America. The group urged senators to vote down Sohn's nomination due to her "hostility towards copyright law." Sohn was previously on the board of Locast, a defunct service that rebroadcast over-the-air TV broadcast signals via the internet. She said she'd recuse herself from issues concerning retransmission consent and broadcast copyright.

In confirmation hearings, Republicans portrayed Sohn as an extreme partisan. She hit back at those assertions, arguing that she had been subject to "unrelenting, unfair and outright false criticism and scrutiny."

The FTC, meanwhile, is in the process of reviewing some significant proposed mergers. According to reports, those include Amazon's planned buyout of MGM and Microsoft's bid to acquire Activision Blizzard. Reports suggest the FTC is mulling an antitrust challenge to block the Amazon-MGM deal, though it would need a majority vote to proceed with a lawsuit.

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