On Monday, May 7, 2012, the Senate confirmed the nominations of Democrat Jessica Rosenworcel and Republican Ajit Pai to take the two open seats at the FCC. After Senator Charles Grassley (R-IA) lifted his longstanding hold on the nominations, the Senate moved quickly to approve the two nominees.
The two nominees will add a fourth and fifth vote on future matters before the agency. While these nominations were pending, the Commission had only three members (Chairman Genachowski, Commissioner Clyburn, and Commissioner McDowell), and the Chairman only needed a single concurring vote to move his agenda forward. In practice, every Commissioner weighs in on every major item, and each Commissioner may request changes to any pending proposal as the price of their concurrence. Moreover, traditionally the agency prefers to issue unanimous rulings when possible. As a result, while Democratic Commissioners under Chairman Genachowski will remain a majority, with the addition of a fourth and fifth vote the organizational dynamics of the Commission will certainly change as the new Commissioners make their particular perspectives and policy concerns known.