On June 13, the White House announced that Jessica Rosenworcel, who served as an FCC commissioner from 2012 until her term expired on Dec. 31, 2016, will be nominated to a new term at the agency. Rosenworcel, a Democrat, has been a strong supporter of the E-rate program, and of broader efforts to close the digital divide including what she coined “the homework gap” through increased broadband deployment utilizing the universal service program.
It is not immediately clear whether Rosenworcel will be nominated to replace Commissioner Mignon Clyburn, the sole Democrat now on the FCC whose term expires on June 30 (but who may serve until the end of this year if her seat is not filled beforehand), or whether her nomination will fill the other vacant Democratic seat on the Commission. The FCC now has only three sitting commissioners— Chairman Ajit Pai and Michael O’Rielly, both Republicans, and Clyburn. The other two seats remain vacant, giving Republicans a 2-1 majority and a bare quorum to conduct business. It is widely reported that Brendan Carr, currently the FCC’s general counsel and a former aide to Chairman Pai, will soon be nominated to fill the vacant Republican seat.