Senate panel approves FCC nominees, but Grassley threatens to block vote

The Senate Commerce Committee approved President Obama's two nominees for open FCC commissioner positions, but the nominations may still be delayed by a senator seeking more information from the FCC on its decisions around wholesale LTE provider LightSquared.

The Senate panel, which held a confirmation hearing for the nominees last week, approved the nominations of Republican Ajit Vradaraj Pai and Democrat Jessica Rosenworcel by a unanimous voice vote. Now the full Senate will get to vote up-or-down on the nominations.

However, Sen. Charles Grassley (R.-Iowa) said he will place a hold on the nominees, which would block a vote, if the FCC does not release more documents related to its decision to grant a conditional waiver for LightSquared to offer terrestrial LTE service. The waiver said LightSquared could not begin commercial service until GPS interference concerns are resolved. Since the waiver was granted, LightSquared has become embroiled in controversy over GPS interference caused by its proposed terrestrial network, and the FCC has been testing possible solutions to the issue. 

Grassley told Bloomberg that the FCC still has not released information about what he called an "apparent rush to approve" LightSquared's plans. "As a last resort to try to exhort more transparency and accountability from the FCC, I'll place a hold on consideration of the agency nominees on the Senate floor," Grassley said.

An FCC spokeswoman declined to comment. In November the FCC released documents on the matter in response to a Freedom of Information Act request by several media outlets. However the documents did not include internal deliberations leading up to the granting of the conditional waiver, which was not voted on by the full, five-member commission.  

For more:
- see this Bloomberg article
- see this The Hill article

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