US Senate confirms Anna Gomez as fifth FCC commissioner

Federal Communications Commission headquarters - Washington, DC USA

Anna Gomez has been appointed as the fifth commissioner of the Federal Communications Commission, a role that has been vacant for the entire Biden administration.

President Biden nominated Gomez in May this year, and she has now been appointed for a term of five years, but that seems to be backdated from July 1, 2021 when the last one left.

Crucially this gives the FCC a 3 to 2 Democrat majority, breaking a deadlock and presumably making it easier for it to make moves in relation to national telecoms policy and other items under its purview in the future.

In terms of her background, Gomez has served in the State Department as senior advisor for international information and communications policy at the Bureau of Cyberspace and Digital Policy, in the Commerce Department as deputy assistant secretary of the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA), and has also worked various jobs at the FCC dating back as far as the Clinton administration.

The road to filling the post appears to have been a rocky one. Biden’s first pick in October 2021 was Gigi Sohn, which appears to have caused some controversy which was in part at least down to partisan politics, but seems to have been even more complicated than that with Democratic senator for West Virginia Joe Manchin declaring he would vote against her confirmation.

Biden renominated her twice but couldn’t get it over the line, and she finally withdrew her nomination in March this year.

The current roster of FCC commissioners were quick to come out with statements of support for Gomez’s appointment.

“I congratulate Anna Gomez on her Senate confirmation,” said Geoffrey Starks. “As I said when she was nominated, Anna’s a true expert, and the depth of her experience will be an asset for the agency and the public we all serve.  I look forward to working with her to expand digital opportunity and drive impact in the United States.”

Brendan Carr added: “I want to extend my congratulations to Anna Gomez on being confirmed by the U.S. Senate to serve as an FCC Commissioner.  Ms. Gomez’s career demonstrates a longstanding commitment to public service—from her leadership in the State Department’s Bureau of Cyberspace and Digital Policy to her previous service as staff counsel in the U.S. Senate and roles at the FCC, White House, and National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA).  I welcome her as a colleague and look forward to working together on policies that will protect consumers and promote the interests of all Americans.”

Jessica Rosenworcel, FCC Chairwoman said: “Congratulations to Anna Gomez on her confirmation by the United States Senate.  I look forward to welcoming her to the Commission.  Anna brings with her a wealth of telecommunications experience, a substantial record of public service, and a history of working to ensure the United States stays on the cutting edge of keeping us all connected.  Her international expertise will be a real asset to the agency.  I look forward to working with her to advance the agency’s mission to ensure the benefits of modern communications reach everyone, everywhere and that the United States can continue to lead in the digital age.”

And Nathan Simington said: “I want to extend my sincerest congratulations to Ms. Gomez on being confirmed by the U.S. Senate to serve as FCC Commissioner.  Ms. Gomez has dedicated much of her career to public service and will no doubt continue to faithfully serve the public interest in her new role as Commissioner.  I look forward to working with her.”

In terms of industry response, Susan Miller, President and CEO of the Alliance for Telecommunications Industry Solutions (ATIS) said: “ATIS looks forward to working with Ms. Gomez as the Commission tackles complex technology policy challenges critical to the country’s economic and national security. Our goal is to advance priorities to help the US maintain its global leadership role in advanced communications technologies.”

In one sense this is quite a niche bit of news and on the surface may not seem massively significant outside of US political bubbles – but at the present moment in time for the global telecoms industry, how the FCC functions makes waves far beyond US borders.

Telecoms has never been a more politicised issue and the US government in its various departments has not been shy of making policy and projecting that onto allied states, as exemplified with the Huawei ban. Aside from any national moves the FCC might now pursue (some sort of attack on Fox News has been reported as one goal), the decisions it may make in the future in relation to net neutrality and the international telecoms market are but two areas in which it has significant influence on the global scene.

In the famously partisan world of US politics, it’s generally reported that the 2 Republican versus 2 Democrat deadlock meant getting much done wasn’t easy at the FCC during the Biden administration – which begs the question of what it’s going to do in a less restrained form.


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