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Trump set to fill out FCC with another Republican commissioner

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The nomination of FCC’s general counsel Brendan Carr to commissioner could likely seal net neutrality’s fate.

South Carolina Department of Corrections’ director, Bryan Stirling, right, shows hundreds of cellphones seized in a single raid to FCC official Matthew Berry, left, FCC Commissioner Ajit Pai , center left, and FCC general counsel Brendan Carr , center right, in this 2016 photo. CREDIT: Stephanie Givens, South Carolina Department of Corrections via AP

President Donald Trump has nominated the FCC’s general counsel Brendan Carr to be the agency’s third Republican commissioner — a move that could ensure the end of net neutrality regulations. Recode first reported the nomination, which the White House confirmed.

Carr was previously a telecom lawyer at the conservative-leaning Washington, D.C. law firm Wiley Rein, where he represented major companies such as AT&T and Verizon. He has also worked with telecom lobbying groups USTelecom and CTIA, which represents wireless communications companies, Recode reported.

Carr was also once an aide to current FCC Chairman Ajit Pai, the LA Times reported. Pai has initiated a rollback of the 2015 net neutrality rules that prohibit companies from prioritizing content and access in the form of fast and slow lanes for a cost.

The future of net neutrality under Trump

Carr’s nomination wasn’t Trump’s first attempt to fill the two vacant seats left in the FCC’s five-member board. The president previously nominated Jessica Rosenworcel, a former Democratic FCC commissioner under the Obama administration, but Congress failed to confirm her reappointment before it expired in 2016.

If confirmed, Carr would join two other Republicans, FCC Chair Pai and Commissioner Michael O’Reilly. Mignon Clyburn is the only Democrat on the commission and her term is almost up. The White House is considering renominating Rosenworcel but hasn’t indicated whether it would do the same for Clyburn.

Net neutrality protests kick off as FCC moves to undo open internet rules

In April, Pai announced his proposal to undo the net neutrality rules a Democratic FCC commission passed in 2015. Pai called net neutrality rules a “black cloud” for broadband providers that has led to “less access, fewer American jobs.”

Carr’s ties to big telecom could help tip the upcoming net neutrality vote in favor of deregulation, since Pai’s proposal to roll back net neutrality rules will likely pass along party lines — as it did for Democrats in 2015.

Pai has supported Carr’s nomination, saying he would be “an added voice at the commission in efforts to reduce senseless regulations and install sound policymaking,” the LA Times reported.

Stacking the FCC with conservative commissioners could play into the White House’s mission to reduce the number of regulations enforced across government agencies. But net neutrality supporters won’t let things go quietly. Protesters had a strong presence during the FCC’s first open meeting to discuss Pai’s proposal in early June.

A final vote on net neutrality is expected to take place later this year.


Trump set to fill out FCC with another Republican commissioner was originally published in ThinkProgress on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

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