Senate confirms Rosenworcel to new term on U.S. FCC


FILE PHOTO: Jessica Rosenworcel testifies during an oversight hearing held by the U.S. Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee to examine the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), in Washington, U.S. June 24, 2020. Alex Wong/Pool via REUTERS/File Photo

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. Senate voted 68-31 on Tuesday to confirm Federal Communications Commission chair Jessica Rosenworcel to a new five-year term with the telecom regulator.

Rosenworcel, 50, a champion of broadband access for low-income American households and landmark net neutrality rules, was designated by President Joe Biden in October as the first woman to permanently chair the FCC.

"There's work to do to make sure modern communications reach everyone, everywhere. Now let's get to it," Rosenworcel said on Twitter after the Senate vote.

Biden waited more than nine months to make FCC nominations. The commission has not been able to address some issues because it has one vacancy and is divided 2-2 between Democrats and Republicans.

The Senate Commerce Committee could vote on Biden's nomination of Democrat Gigi Sohn to the open seat as early as Dec. 15.

Sohn, a former senior aide to Tom Wheeler who served as FCC chairman under former President Barack Obama, said it would take at least a year for the commission to reinstate neutrality rules repealed in 2017 under then-President Donald Trump.

The FCC adopted net neutrality rules in 2015 barring internet service providers from blocking or throttling traffic, or offering paid fast lanes.

"I am very concerned that broadband, an essential service, has been without any oversight for the past four years," Sohn said at a hearing this month.

Sohn said she does not support using net neutrality rules to regulate internet pricing.

Rosenworcel said in written comments that she does not plan to regulate broadband rates directly or indirectly.

(Reporting by David Shepardson; Editing by Cynthia Osterman)

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