The Senate Commerce Committee\u0026#039;s\u0026nbsp;ongoing delay in confirming President Joe Biden\u0026#039;s nominee to fill the empty seat on the deadlocked Federal Communications Commission is being criticized as a \u0022gift\u0022 to powerful tech companies.\r\n\r\nGigi Sohn, co-founder of advocacy group Public Knowledge and longtime net neutrality defender already had a confirmation hearing in December, but Biden renominated her after the committee, chaired by Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.), failed to bring her nomination to the Senate floor for a vote.\r\n\r\nSohn is appearing for a second time before the Commerce Committee Wednesday.\r\n\r\nThe further delay \u0022only hurts the American public and deadlocks the FCC—which is precisely the point,\u0022 saidMatt Wood, vice president of policy and general counsel to Free Press, on Wednesday. \r\n\r\nRepublicans on the committee and telecom industry lobbyists \u0022don\u0026#039;t want the agency to function, and they\u0026#039;ll drum up any excuse to delay, derail, or distract regulators from doing their jobs,\u0022 Wood added. \u0022Today\u0026#039;s hearing is entirely unnecessary.\u0022\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\nThe committee had been scheduled to vote on advancing Sohn\u0026#039;s nomination last week, but Cantwell announced a day before the planned vote that it would be further delayed, citing committee member Sen. Ben Ray Luján’s (D-N.M.) absence as a result of a stroke.\r\n\r\n\u0022There is no legitimate rationale for holding a second hearing about a recusal that both the Office of Government Ethics and the FCC\u0026#039;s general counsel determined was not needed.\u0022\r\n\r\nWithout Luján present, Republicans would have been able to block Sohn\u0026#039;s nomination by voting along party lines. Evan Greer, director of digital advocacy group Fight for the Future, expressed understanding of the delayed vote due to Luján\u0026#039;s unforeseen health crisis, but said last week that the second hearing was \u0022utterly unrelated.\u0022\r\n\r\n\u0022The timeline suggests Cantwell was considering this even before that,\u0022 she tweeted after Wednesday\u0026#039;s hearing was announced.\r\n\r\nGreer wrote to Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) last week, calling for Cantwell to be dismissed from her position as chair of the committee and saying she \u0022has been actively and egregiously preventing Democrats from making good\u0022 on Biden\u0026#039;s promise to ending the FCC\u0026#039;s 2-2 deadlock so it can reinstate net neutrality rules repealed by the Trump administration and pass other regulations.\r\n\r\n\u0022She has repeatedly caved to disingenuous opposition from Republicans and industry lobbyists, leading to inexcusable delays\u0022 in Sohn\u0026#039;s confirmation process, Greer wrote.\r\n\r\nAs advocacy group Free Press said last month, telecom giant Comcast\u0026#039;s hiring of a new lobbyist appeared specifically aimed at challenging Sohn\u0026#039;s nomination.\r\n\r\nRepublicans on the Commerce Committee have claimed Sohn\u0026#039;s nomination to the FCC is unsuitable due to her past comments about right-wing news outlets like Fox News, which she accused of spreading \u0022propaganda\u0022 in a tweet in 2020.\r\n\r\nSen. Roger Wicker (D-Miss.), the ranking member on the committee, has claimed Sohn\u0026#039;s past as a board member at a discontinued nonprofit streaming service, Locast, disqualifies her. Locast was ordered by a federal court to shut down and settled with several broadcast networks whose content it streamed.\r\n\r\nSohn has pledged to recuse herself from some broadcast regulatory matters if confirmed to be an FCC commissioner—though her recusal is not required by government ethics officials—to ensure \u0022the public has full confidence that policymakers will make decisions free of bias.\u0022\r\n\r\nHolding a second hearing rather than simply proceeding with a vote once Luján is able to participate, said observers, will give Republicans an opportunity to raise their purported concerns again.\r\n\r\n\u0022We have to deal with Sen. Wicker\u0026#039;s disingenuous and blatant obstructionism over this crucial nomination,\u0022 said Wood last week. \u0022And with Sen. Cantwell caving to unreasonable demands from opponents to Sohn, we\u0026#039;re going to see a hearing full of political posturing that serves no one except industry players eager to draw out the calendar and keep the FCC deadlocked.\u0022\r\n\r\nWood laid blame with the White House\u0026#039;s delay in naming FCC nominees last year as well as Wicker\u0026#039;s \u0022continued opportunistic nonsense,\u0022 saying it isn\u0026#039;t clear whether Cantwell \u0022participating in that obstruction or just wildly ineffective at countering it.\u0022\r\n\r\nThe delay caused by Cantwell\u0026#039;s decision to hold another hearing \u0022is a gift to AT\u0026amp;T, Comcast, and the other companies that have worked for years to weaken the FCC\u0026#039;s authority and who benefit from a deadlocked agency,\u0022 said Joshua Stager, deputy director for broadband and competition policy at New America\u0026#039;s Open Technology Institute, last week.\r\n\r\n\u0022There is no legitimate rationale for holding a second hearing about a recusal that both the Office of Government Ethics and the FCC\u0026#039;s general counsel determined was not needed,\u0022 he added.\r\n\r\nStager and Greer both noted that the second hearing \u0022sets a dangerous precedent\u0022 for Biden\u0026#039;s future nominees—a concern that was bolstered Tuesday as Communications Daily reported that Republicans on the committee are now seeking a second hearing for Alvaro Bedoya, Biden\u0026#039;s nominee to serve on the Federal Trade Commission.