United States President Joe Biden has announced his intention to nominate attorney Anna Gomez for a crucial fifth seat on the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). This move comes after Democrats faced obstacles since 2021 in their efforts to secure a majority on the five-member telecommunications regulator.
Anna Gomez, a Democratic telecommunications attorney, currently holds the position of senior adviser for the State Department’s Bureau of Cyberspace and Digital Policy. In this role, she is leading the United States’ preparations for the 2023 World Radio Conference.
President Biden in a news statement said that he also plans to re-nominate Democratic Commissioner Geoffrey Starks and Republican Commissioner Brendan Carr for new five-year terms. Without Senate action, Starks would have to leave in January, and Carr’s term would end in January 2025.
Since January 2021, the FCC has been deadlocked with a 2-2 tie, impeding the Democrats’ efforts to reinstate net neutrality rules that were revoked during the tenure of former Republican President Donald Trump. Net neutrality laws aim to prevent internet service providers from blocking or slowing down traffic or offering preferential treatment through paid “fast lanes.”
In July 2021, President Biden signed an executive order urging the FCC to reinstate the net neutrality rules that were initially adopted under former Democratic President Barack Obama in 2015.
Gigi Sohn, President Biden’s initial nominee for the vacant seat, withdrew her nomination in March after facing opposition from industry opponents. Democrats hold a narrow 51-49 majority in the Senate, and it is expected that Anna Gomez may face less opposition during the confirmation process compared to Sohn, whose nomination remained pending for over 16 months awaiting a vote.
Anna Gomez has garnered support from major telecommunications companies, with Comcast stating that her extensive knowledge across various FCC-related issues makes her highly qualified to serve as a commissioner.
Prior to her current role, Anna Gomez served as the deputy administrator of the Commerce Department’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration from 2009 to 2013. She also spent 12 years in different positions at the FCC and worked as a government affairs executive at Sprint Nextel. Additionally, she served as a partner at Wiley Rein LLP, a Washington law firm, where she headed the media and technology group.
The FCC has expressed growing concerns about Chinese telecom companies that were granted permission to operate in the United States several decades ago. In 2019, the FCC voted against allowing China Mobile, a state-owned Chinese telecom firm, to provide services in the U.S. Subsequently, the FCC revoked authorizations for several other Chinese telecom carriers, including China Telecom.