US President Joseph R. Biden has designated Acting FCC Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel to serve as the Chair of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). She is the first woman to be named to this position in the agency’s almost 100-year history.
Jessica Rosenworcel is a Democrat. She is expected to win U.S. Senate approval for a new term on the five-member telecoms regulator. Ajit Pai was the FCC chairman before the appointment of Jessica Rosenworcel in her interim role in January 2021.
Biden has waited more than nine months to make nominations for the FCC, which has not been able to address some issues because it currently has one vacancy and is divided 2-2 between Democrats and Republicans.
For the open seat, the White House confirmed to nominate Gigi Sohn, a former senior aide to Tom Wheeler, who served as an FCC chairman under President Barack Obama, a Democrat.
Rosenworcel has overseen the FCC’s temporary $3.2 billion broadband subsidy program created by Congress in December that provides discounts on monthly internet service and on the purchase of laptops or tablet computers to more than 6 million lower-income American households or people afflicted by COVID-19.
Biden will nominate Alan Davidson, a senior adviser at Mozilla, as director of the Commerce Department’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration, the executive branch agency principally responsible for advising the White House on telecommunications and information policy issues. NTIA is also expected to oversee tens of billions of dollars in funding from Congress to expand internet access.
Last month, a group of 25 U.S. senators wrote to Biden in support of Rosenworcel, a former Senate staffer, for a new term and the chair role. They wrote “further delays will unnecessarily imperil our shared goal of achieving ubiquitous broadband connectivity.”
“I am humbled to be designated as Chair of the Federal Communications Commission by President Biden,” said Rosenworcel.
In her time at the Commission, Rosenworcel has worked to promote greater opportunity, accessibility, and affordability in our communications services in order to ensure that all Americans get a fair shot at 21st century success.
From fighting to protect an open internet to ensuring broadband access for students caught in the Homework Gap through the FCC’s Emergency Connectivity Fund to making sure that households struggling to afford internet service stay connected through the Emergency Broadband Benefit program, she has been a champion for connectivity for all.
She is a leader in spectrum policy, developing new ways to support wireless services from Wi-Fi to video and the Internet of Things. She has fought to combat illegal robocalls and enhance consumer protections in our telecommunications policies.
Prior to joining the agency, she served as Senior Communications Counsel for the United States Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, under the leadership of Senator John D. Rockefeller IV and Senator Daniel Inouye.
Before entering public service, Jessica practiced communications law. She lives in Washington D.C. with her two children and her husband, who is counsel at a national law firm. With this announcement, he will be taking a leave of absence from the firm.