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Jessica Rosenworcel of the FCC speaks at a net neutrality protest

Then-FCC Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel addressed demonstrators at a net neutrality rally on December 14, 2017 in Washington, D.C. (Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

Rosenworcel FCC Confirmation Hailed as a Step Toward a 'Just and Democratic Media System'

"We're immensely pleased that the agency is being led by such a great champion of an open internet and of bringing affordable broadband to everyone in the United States."

Jake Johnson

The U.S. Senate voted Tuesday to confirm Jessica Rosenworcel as chair of the Federal Communications Commission, a move that open internet advocates celebrated as an important step toward the creation of a truly "just and democratic media system."

"She's a longtime advocate of causes that prioritize people over powerful industry interests."

Tuesday's overwhelming bipartisan vote of 68-31 grants Rosenworcel—who spoke out forcefully against the Trump-era repeal of net neutrality protections—a five-year term at the helm of the FCC, where she has previously served as commissioner and acting chair. In October, President Joe Biden designated Rosenworcel as permanent chair of the agency after a long delay that angered progressives.

"It was a long and winding road for Jessica Rosenworcel, but she stayed the course and good sense has now finally prevailed with today's Senate vote," Michael Copps, a former FCC commissioner and a special adviser at Common Cause, said in a statement. "Jessica faces a daunting agenda as chair but she has the experience and dedication to make historic progress leading the FCC. Past commission mistakes must be corrected and new trails blazed to provide our country with the communications ecosystem our democracy so clearly must have."

Craig Aaron, co-CEO of the advocacy group Free Press Action, said that "we're immensely pleased that the agency is being led by such a great champion of an open internet and of bringing affordable broadband to everyone in the United States."

"Chairwoman Rosenworcel rightly believes that advocating for the public interest means supporting an open, equitable, and inclusive media system," Aaron added. "She's a longtime advocate of causes that prioritize people over powerful industry interests, and has the political savvy and the incredible depth of legal and technical knowledge to tackle the many challenges facing the FCC."

Rosenworcel's confirmation came as the Biden administration faces pressure to do everything in its power to restore net neutrality protections, which the FCC rolled back in 2017 under the leadership of then-Chair Ajit Pai, a former Verizon lawyer.

The revival of net neutrality protections would likely require a Democratic majority on the FCC, which is currently deadlocked with two Republicans and two Democrats.

While some Senate Republicans voted to confirm Rosenworcel, Ars Technica reported Tuesday that the GOP is "mounting a serious challenge" against Gigi Sohn, a Biden FCC pick whose confirmation would give Democrats a 3-2 majority at the agency.

Aaron said Tuesday that Sohn "is a devoted advocate for policies and programs that will truly improve people's lives."

"She has long been a clarion voice outside of the building for what needs to change," Aaron continued. "As FCC commissioner, she will build bipartisan support for resolving many pressing issues before the agency. Free Press Action urges the Senate to vote to approve Sohn as quickly as possible. There's much important work ahead, and Rosenworcel and Sohn are the right leaders to get it done."

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