President Donald Trump plans to nominate former Federal Communications Commission (FCC) commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel to the open Democratic slot in the agency. The president made the announcement on Twitter late Tuesday night. Rosenworcel previously served as commissioner at the agency from 2012 to 2016.
The nomination of Rosenworcel to the FCC balances out the number of Democrats and Republicans in the agency for now. Mignon Clyburn is the federal agency's other Democrat. FCC commissioners Ajit Pai and Michael O'Riley are Republicans. In a statement, Clyburn said Rosenworcel was a leader in modernizing 9-1-1 call centers and "a champion for freeing up more unlicensed spectrum." Clyburn continued, "I look forward to working with her in the fight for an open internet, affordable broadband and strong consumer privacy protections." (See also: Senate Votes to End ISP Consumer Privacy Rule.)
According to various media outlets, Rosenworcel is an advocate for net neutrality, or the principle that broadband carriers should treat all internet traffic as equal, regardless of source. She voted in favor of then-commissioner Tom Wheeler's measure classifying broadband carriers as utilities and subjecting them to greater federal regulation. FCC Commissioner Ajit Pai has been trying to dismantle the measure. Telecom carriers such as AT&T, Inc. (T) and Comcast Corporation (CMCSA) are expected to benefit from the removal of net neutrality regulation. This is because the removal of net neutrality would free them to introduce separate charges for high-speed internet lanes for specialized purposes, such as video streaming. (See also: Net Neutrality Was a Mistake: FCC Chairman.)
However, Rosenworcel's addition to the FCC commissioner roster might not translate into much of a challenge for Pai. While announcing his plans to nominate Rosenworcel, President Trump did not elaborate on whether she was a replacement for Clyburn, whose term ends later this year. The agency needs a quorum of at least three members to pass a decision. It is quite possible that Rosenworcel may be a replacement instead of an addition to the agency. In that case, her suport for net neutrality might be a minority stance in the face of two Republican commissioners. (See also: Net Neutrality Issue (Again): Pros and Cons.)