The U.S. Senate has confirmed, on a 49-46 vote, the nomination of Nathan Simington to be a Commissioner on the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). Mr. Simington will take the place of Commissioner Michael O’Rielly, who is expected to leave the FCC by the end of the year. Mr. Simington’s five-year term will begin retroactively on July 1, 2019, when Commissioner O’Rielly’s term expired; under the Communications Act he was allowed to continue to serve through the end of the current Congress or until his successor was confirmed. Mr. Simington’s term will therefore extend until June 30, 2024.
Mr. Simington is currently an official with the National Telecommunications and Information Administration, which is part of the U.S. Department of Commerce.
With the confirmation of Mr. Simington and the announced departure of FCC Chairman Ajit Pai effective January 20, 2021, the Commission will have two Democrats (Commissioners Jessica Rosenworcel and Geoffrey Starts) and two Republicans. (Commissioners Brendan Carr and Mr. Simington).Under the Communications Act, the Biden Administration will nominate a third Commissioner and designate the new Chairman of the FCC. The U.S. Senate will have to confirm whomever is nominated for this seat and confirm the new Chairman. President Biden could decide to nominate a current Democratic Commissioner toserve as the new Chair, which also would require confirmation.
The Senate’s action was greeted with congratulatory statements by Chairman Pai and Commissioners Rosenworcel, Carr and Starks.
In the meantime, the FCC has continued to complete requirements imposed under the TRACED Act, releasing a report to Congress on the status of the reassigned number database (https://docs.fcc.gov/public/attachments/DOC-368620A1.pdf) and a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking to create “an online web portal where private entities may submit information about violations of sections 227(b) and 227(e) of the Communications Act.” (https://docs.fcc.gov/public/attachments/FCC-20-174A1.pdf).