Senate Approves NTIA Head Strickling; Genachowski, McDowell for FCC; Baker, Clyburn on Deck

Broadband Stimulus, FCC, National Broadband Plan, NTIA June 25th, 2009

, Reporter,

WASHINGTON, June 26, 2009 – The Senate on Thursday voted to give its consent for Julius Genachowski (D) and Robert McDowell (R) to serve five-year terms on the Federal Communications Commission, with Genachowski holding the gavel as chairman. Also receiving an affirmative vote was Lawrence Strickling, who will head the National Telecommunications and Information Administration.

Genachowski and McDowell appeared before the Senate Commerce Committee last week and were voted to the full Senate two days later.  Strickling’s nomination had been approved and awaiting a confirmation vote for several weeks.

Genachowski and McDowell were warmly welcomed in statements by their FCC colleagues. Acting Chairman Michael Copps (D) said the new chairman, who could take the gavel as soon as the commission’s July 2 open meeting, will bring “just the right blend of talent, experience and dedication to lead the FCC toward the more active role it must play if all our citizens are to enjoy the blessings and bounties of Twenty-first century communications.”

And McDowell’s “many talents were evidenced during his first term,” Copps said. “I look forward to working with him during his second.”

Strickling’s confirmation was warmly welcomed by public interest advocates, many of whom are eagerly awaiting the release of guidelines for broadband grant programs that NTIA is slated to run.

NTIA “faces some challenging months ahead,” said Public Knowledge founder Gigi Sohn. “Larry’s leadership will be welcomed as his agency takes on the monumental tasks before it.”

Also in the news was President Obama’s announcement of his intent to nominate former NTIA administrator Meredith Atwell Baker (R) to an open FCC seat vacated last year by Deborah Taylor Tate (R). Baker joins Democrat Mignon Clyburn of South Carolina as the President’s last two choices to fill the agency.

Clyburn is the daughter of House Majority Whip James Clyburn, D-S.C., and serves on the state’s public services commission. Baker led NTIA during the waning days of the Bush presidency, and is the daughter-in-law of former Secretary of State James Baker.

Acting Chairman Copps expressed delight at the opportunity to act with a full commission: “I am so pleased that with today’s nominations we can begin to look forward to a fully-constituted FCC,” Copps said.  “With all the communications challenges confronting the Commission, I am looking forward to having the benefit of all the talents that five members can bring to our work.”

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