On Tuesday, the Senate voted 68 to 31 to confirm Jessica Rosenworcel’s re-appointment to the Federal Communications Commission, putting her in place to be the first official chair of the agency under President Biden. Rosenworcel will also be the first female chair in the 86-year history of the FCC.
The vote officially confirmed Rosenworcel’s reappointment as FCC commissioner, but with Senate approval in place, it makes her formal ascension to chair all but certain. In a speech announcing the floor vote, Majority Leader Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) called Rosenworcel “a remarkable, highly experienced and historic nominee.”
As chair, Rosenworcel is expected to place a particular emphasis on broadband access, working to expand high-speed internet coverage in underserved areas. In a Vergecast interview in 2020, she placed particular emphasis on the “homework gap” caused as schools move online.
“We need a nationwide plan for addressing the digital divide,” Rosenworcel said at the time. “As a nation, we need a policy that addresses how we’re going to connect all of us.”
Rosenworcel will be taking the reins amid an extended deadlock at the commission, which has been without a fifth commissioner — and as a result, without a Democratic majority — since President Biden took office. As a result, the FCC has been unable to take action on net neutrality, which was widely anticipated in the wake of the election. In October, Biden nominated longtime net neutrality advocate Gigi Sohn for the fifth seat, but she has generated significant opposition from Republicans and may not receive a full Senate vote until after the new year.