Trump says he'll nominate Rosenworcel for a second FCC term

FCC headquarters
Rosenworcel, a Democrat, helped advance former Chairman Tom Wheeler’s agenda on the FCC when that party enjoyed a 3-2 advantage on the Commission. (FCC)

President Donald Trump said he plans to nominate Jessica Rosenworcel to the Federal Communications Commission, paving the way for the net neutrality supporter to return to the agency after her term lapsed late last year.

Rosenworcel, a Democrat, helped advance former Chairman Tom Wheeler’s agenda on the FCC when that party enjoyed a 3-2 advantage on the Commission. President Obama nominated her for a second term shortly before leaving the White House in January, but Trump dropped the nomination after taking office.

Republicans currently hold a 2-1 voting edge at the agency under new Chairman Ajit Pai, but Democrat Mignon Clyburn’s term is slated to end in a few weeks.

Trump announced his intention to nominate Rosenworcel late Tuesday, and Pai was quick to voice his support for the move.

“I congratulate Jessica Rosenworcel on the announcement that President Trump will nominate her to serve another term on the Federal Communications Commission,” Paid said in a prepared statement. “She has a distinguished record of public service, including the four-and-a-half years we worked together at this agency, and I look forward to working with her once again to advance the public interest.”

AT&T also praised the nomination, noting Rosenworcel’s “considerable intellect.”

In addition to backing net neutrality rules, Rosenworcel has pushed for the expansion of the FCC’s Lifeline program, which provides subsidized communications devices and services for low-income users. Her vote was crucial last year when the FCC moved to allow roughly 40 million Americans to apply existing the $9.25 monthly subsidy to broadband rather than limiting it to voice calling options.

"This change is overdue because connectivity today is so much more than it was when this program got its start and most communication involved a phone cord," Rosenworcel said at the time. "There was a time when broadband access was a luxury. No more. And nothing demonstrates this as clearly as education."

Rosenworcel is believed to have broad bipartisan support, but it isn’t clear just how much impact she might have under the Pai-led FCC with a Republican majority. Pai has already begun to try to roll back Obama-era net neutrality rules, and earlier this year the FCC overhauled the Lifeline program, eliminating the federal approval process for providers and effectively returning those processes to the states.