Government watchdogs are intensifying calls on the U.S. Senate to confirm net neutrality defender Gigi Sohn to the Federal Communications Commission after a monthslong delay which has frustrated advocacy groups as the panel remains deadlocked and unable to pass crucial reforms.\r\n\r\nSaturday marks the 500th day of the deadlock, media justice group Free Press said.\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\nDemocrats are under pressure to confirm Sohn, founder of telecom policy group Public Knowledge, to fill the fifth seat on the FCC before Congress\u0026#039; summer recess begins August 8.\r\n\r\nWithout a confirmation by then, the party may miss the opportunity to use its slim majority to secure three seats on the panel before the midterm elections.\r\n\r\n\u0022Failing to confirm Ms. Sohn would not just result in lost opportunities for the White House and FCC to advance public interest agendas but would also negatively impact our everyday lives.\u0022\r\n\r\n\u0022Given the current time constraints, it would be incredibly difficult if not impossible for the White House to identify, vet, nominate, and for the Senate to ultimately confirm another nominee if Ms. Sohn is not confirmed,\u0022 said Michael Copps, former FCC commissioner and a special advisor to Common Cause. \u0022If we want to break the deadlock and have an FCC that can fully address the communications needs of our households during this administration, it\u0026#039;s Ms. Sohn or bust.\u0022\r\n\r\nRight-wing Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) and Sen. Mark Kelly (D-Ariz.) remain undecided on whether they\u0026#039;ll support Sohn as the telecom industry targets corporate members of the party with ads urging them to vote against her.\r\n\r\nAs Common Dreams reported in April, lobbyists from companies including AT\u0026amp;T and Comcast have helped push false claims that Sohn is insufficiently committed to rural broadband issues and promoting diversity in the industry, taking advantage of the Democrats\u0026#039; delay.\r\n\r\n\u0022The clock is not just running out for Gigi Sohn to be confirmed but also for any chance to have a fully functional FCC during the Biden administration,\u0022 said Copps. \u0022Big money opposition understands this dynamic and is running a smear campaign to stall Ms. Sohn\u0026#039;s confirmation. The ISP gatekeepers know that a functional FCC would hold them accountable for engaging in discriminatory and anti-competitive practices.\u0022\r\n\r\nWith a 2-2 deadlock on the commission, Chair Jessica Rosenworcel—who was nominated to her post by President Joe Biden—has been unable to lead the FCC in restoring net neutrality protections gutted by the Trump administration, pass rules addressing monopolization in the telecom sector, protect communications networks from the climate crisis, and strengthen broadband affordability initiatives, among other reforms.\r\n\r\n\u0022Failing to confirm Ms. Sohn would not just result in lost opportunities for the White House and FCC to advance public interest agendas but would also negatively impact our everyday lives as robust and affordable connectivity has become crucial to participating in our democracy and society,\u0022 said Copps.\r\n\r\nManchin has angered progressives throughout Biden\u0026#039;s presidency as he has refused to support filibuster reform in order to pass legislation protecting voting rights and women\u0026#039;s healthcare and has obstructed the president\u0026#039;s signature domestic spending package, the Build Back Better Act.\r\n\r\nCraig Aaron, co-CEO of Free Press, said late last month that with 82% of Democrats and nearly two-thirds of Republicans supporting net neutrality protections—which prohibit internet service providers from creating \u0022fast lanes\u0022 with faster download speeds for websites that pay more for them—\u0022It\u0026#039;s a public disgrace that so many in Washington have chosen to ignore the will of people back home in favor of the well-heeled industry lobbyists who come knocking every day.\u0022\r\n\r\n\u0022The best thing the Democrats who still control the Senate can do is to quickly confirm Gigi Sohn to fill the fifth seat at the commission,\u0022 said Aaron. \u0022Sohn is a devoted public servant who advocates for policies and programs that will improve people’s lives, including reinstating the Title II classification for ISPs that would restore net neutrality protections.\u0022\r\n\r\nAlong with Manchin and Kelly, Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.), who chairs the Senate Commerce Committee, garnered criticism in February for holding a second confirmation hearing for Sohn instead of bringing her nomination to the Senate floor for a vote.\r\n\r\nCantwell \u0022has been actively and egregiously preventing Democrats from making good\u0022 on Biden\u0026#039;s promise to end the FCC deadlock, Evan Greer of Fight for the Future said at the time.\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\n\u0022We can\u0026#039;t afford any more delays,\u0022 said Yosef Getachew, director of Common Cause\u0026#039;s Media and Democracy Program.\r\n\r\nNoting that Americans have waited \u0022500 days for a fully functional FCC,\u0022 Aaron demanded that Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) \u0022stop letting cynical political maneuvers from obstructionist lawmakers and industry-aligned hacks further delay the crucial work of the FCC.\u0022\r\n\r\n\u0022It\u0026#039;s time to call this vote now—before it\u0026#039;s too late,\u0022 he said.