Ajit Pai Has Been Nominated By President Trump For A Second Term At FCC.
Pai was first named to the FCC in 2011 to fill one of the Republican seats on the commission. His first term ended in June 2016, but he was able to remain on the board without going through reconfirmation.
Despite his term expiring, Pai was named to the chairman position of the commission following the election of Donald Trump. Pending approval of his nomination, he will again serve a five-year term that will likely keep him at the head of the agency for the duration of the Trump administration.
Pai will have to go through the Senate approval process, which will require a simple majority vote to reconfirm him. Given the current 52-46 majority held by the Republicans (with two independent senators who both caucus with the Democratic Party), it is likely that he will be approved.
The decision to re-up Pai for the commission comes just one day after the (http://variety.com/2017/biz/news/trump-fcc-chairman-meeting-1202002998/) chairman and President Trump met at a closed session at the White House. A spokesperson for the FCC said the meeting did not include any pending proceedings at the FCC.
Even with Pai reconfirmed and at the head of the FCC, the commission will remain shorthanded. It is currently operating with three commissioners-two Republicans and one Democrat-as opposed to the typical five.
One of the vacant seats was held by former chairman Tom Wheeler, who opted to step down at the start of the Donald Trump administration. Former Obama-appointed commissioner (http://www.ibtimes.com/what-net-neutrality-under-trump-future-bleak-after-senate-fails-reconfirm-advocate-2459162) Jessica Rosenworcel was not reconfirmed by the Senate when her term ended last year, and President Trump officially (http://www.theverge.com/2017/3/2/14792122/jessica-rosenworcel-fcc-nomination-pulled-trump) pulled her nomination earlier this month.
Traditionally, the FCC is chaired by two Republican and two Democratic commissioners, with the role of chairperson changing as the start of a new administration. Federal law prohibits more than three members of the same political party from occupying the commission, so President Trump can't stack the deck too far in his favor.
The Trump administration likely opted to pull Rosenworcel's nomination before filling the other vacancies as approving her would have created a 2-2 tie on the board and effectively blocking the agenda of chairman Pai.
Even without a full commission, Pai has been able to move forward on a number of initiatives, including (http://www.ibtimes.com/broadband-privacy-rules-fcc-will-kill-rule-blocking-isps-collecting-information-2497633) blocking broadband privacy laws that would have prevented internet service providers from collecting customer data and (http://www.ibtimes.com/fcc-lifeline-program-commission-prevents-nine-companies-providing-subsidized-internet-2486250) blocking the expansion of subsidized broadband for low-income households.
Now that Pai has been nominated to continue his role on the commission, it seems likely the Trump administration will move to fill the empty seats so the FCC can move forward with its new agenda.