October 23, 2020 — Democratic members of the Senate Judiciary Committee boycotted Thursday’s executive meeting, during which the committee, led by a Republican majority, advanced Amy Coney Barrett’s nomination to be a justice on the Supreme Court. Additionally, the committee voted to authorize subpoenas relating to the Online Content Policy Modernization Act of Chairman Lindsey Graham, R-S.C.
Both Barrett’s nomination and Graham’s subpoena requests were met favorably by present members of the committee, receiving votes of 12-0.
The committee’s moves today advance Barrett’s Supreme Court nomination out of the committee and to the Senate floor for final voting. Graham called it a momentous day for conservative women and a groundbreaking, historic moment for the American legal and political community.
The legislators also approved subpoena requests for Mark Zuckerberg, CEO of Facebook, and Jack Dorsey, CEO of Twitter, relating to the the Online Content Modernization Act. “There is a lot of interest on the Democratic side for these subpoenas,” said Graham, “hopefully this will give us some leverage to secure their testimonies.”
Graham’s bill has been met with much criticism. So has the nomination of Barrett.
Many have called Graham’s Online Content Policy Modernization Act a threat to the open internet. It would rewrite Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act. That would remove technology platforms’ immunity for the publication of objectionable third party content on their sites.
Instead, the act would insert a limited list of what kinds of content could be moderated without accountability, potentially making it harder for online platforms to take common-sense moderation measures like removing spam or correcting disinformation.
For the nomination of Barrett to the Supreme Court, President Donald Trump has been criticized for trying to push through an appointment before Election Day on November 3. Furthermore, many remember the Republican Party’s united front four years ago in blocking a vote on President Barack Obama’s nominee to fill an election-year vacancy on the high court.
While Democrats continue to criticize the recent Republican move, apparent by today’s boycott, Republican members present claimed that the Democrats set the precedent, by ushering in an era of judicial filibusters.
“The era of mutual respect ended in 1987,” said Sen. Michael Lee, R-Utah, “when the Democratic Senate defeated the nomination of Judge Robert Bork.”
Chairman Graham noted that Democrats “changed the rules in 2013 when they utilized the filibuster for Justice Neil Gorsuch.” Graham said that the move set in motion patterns he has worried about for a long time.
National 6G Strategy Bill Passes Senate Commerce Committee
The Next Generation Telecommunications Act received bipartisan support.
WASHINGTON, March 22, 2022 – Legislation that would create a council to advise Congress on 6G and other wireless technologies and how they may power smart cities on Tuesday passed the Senate’s Commerce, Science and Transportation committee with bipartisan support.
In addition to advising Congress on the state of technology in the telecommunications industry, the council would also develop a comprehensive, national telecom strategy, which will address topics related to technology, workforce demands and security.
The bill, Next Generation Telecommunications Act, S.3014,was introduced by Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto, D-Nev., who said in a press release that the legislation is a key part of her state’s goal of being “on the cutting edge of new technologies.
“We’ve got to promote American competitiveness in these kind of cutting-edge technologies that we’re building in Nevada,” Cortze Masto said in a statement on the bill. “That means improving access to quality broadband, ensuring we have the necessary workforce, and putting in safeguards to make sure we protect emerging technologies.”
The council would be comprised of 15 members including the deputy secretary of Commerce, the assistant secretary of Commerce for Communications and Information, the undersecretary of the National Institute of Standards, the chairperson of the Federal Communications Commission, and the director of the National Science Foundation.
The council would also feature three members appointed by the majority leader of the Senate, two members appointed by the minority leader of the Senate, three members appointed by the Speaker of the House, and two members appointed by the minority leader of the House.
The bill has received notable bipartisan support: it is co-sponsored by two Republicans and two additional Democrats, including Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., and Sen. Ben Luján, D-N.M.
“As China and other countries seek to exploit communications networks for surveillance and intellectual property theft, the U.S. needs a cohesive strategy for the safe deployment of next-generation wireless technologies,” said Sen. Roger Wicker, R-Miss.
South Dakota senator and Senate Republican minority whip John Thune also came out in support of the bill. “This bill would allow the United States to continue competing on the global stage, and it would help prepare the United States to lead the way in deploying next-generation technology, including 6G. I’ll continue to work on bipartisan solutions that will increase innovation and bolster the private sector’s ability to compete in this emerging space.”
The bill must now get through a general vote in the Senate, at which point it will need to also pass the House.
Gigi Sohn Nomination for FCC Advances Out of Commerce Committee on Party Lines
Nomination of Alvaro Bedoya to the FTC can also advance to the floor following a party-line vote.
WASHINGTON, March 4, 2022 – President Joe Biden’s nominee to the Federal Communications Commission Gigi Sohn saw her nomination advance out of the Senate Commerce Committee Thursday following a vote split along party lines.
Sohn, as well as Biden’s nominee to the Federal Trade Commission Alvaro Bedoya, did not receive the vote of a single Republican on the committee while receiving the support of all Democrats including more moderate senators such as Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, D-Ariz., allowing for their nominations to advance to a full vote on the Senate floor.
Republican ranking member of the committee Sen. Roger Wicker of Mississippi stated that on the FCC Sohn would have the appearance of conflicts of interest related to her involvement in past legal battles and cited her past recusals on retransmission consent as problematic.
The controversy is related to Sohn’s involvement with nonprofit streaming service Locast which attempted to make local broadcast network content available to the public for free, sparking copyright lawsuits.
Wicker stated that Bedoya was too divisive and not unifying enough to serve on the FTC, a trend of partisanship that he says is new to the agency.
Strong Democratic support for both nominees makes their confirmations in the Senate seem quite plausible. Should all Republicans vote against the nominations, the approval of all Democratic senators will be required in the deadlocked Senate so that the vice president may break vote ties in the nominees’ favors.
Both the FCC and FTC remain split along party lines, and the confirmations of Sohn and Bedoya would give Democrats the upper hand at the agencies.
The nominations’ advancements out of committee earned praise from telecom industry groups such as think tank New America, the National Association of Telecommunications Officers and Advisors, and intellectual property nonprofit Public Knowledge – the organization Sohn formerly headed.
Alan Davidson’s NTIA Nomination Clears Commerce Committee, On to Senate Floor
The committee did not raise Gigi Sohn’s nomination during its meeting.
WASHINGTON, December 15, 2021 – The Senate Commerce Committee on Wednesday voted to approve President Joe Biden’s nominee to head the National Telecommunications and Information Association Alan Davidson.
Davidson’s nomination will now be brought up for a confirmation vote before the entire Senate.
The committee approved Davidson, a former public policy director at Google, by voice vote. Republican Sens. John Thune, R-S.D., Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn., and Rick Scott, R-Fla., were the only senators to express reservations with Davidson.
Telecom trade associations reacted favorably to Wednesday’s committee vote.
The NCTA said Davidson’s role at the NTIA would be “critically important” to broadband funding and implementation of the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act in unserved and underserved communities.
Utilities Technology Council President and CEO Sheryl Osiene-Riggs lauded Davidson’s “diverse background in public service and the private sector,” and US Telecom President and CEO Jonathan Spalter called Wednesday’s developments “super important.”
Consideration of Gigi Sohn’s nomination to the Federal Communications Commission was not on the Commerce Committee’s agenda Wednesday. She faced opposition in the Senate in part due to her ties to the since-shuttered streaming service Locast.
Additionally on Wednesday, the committee voted on a bipartisan basis to advance the Securing Semiconductor Supply Chains Act of 2021 amid ongoing supply chain delays in the shipping of semiconductor chips.
The bill, sponsored by Sen. Gary Peters, D-Mich., would direct Commerce Department trade promotion agency SelectUSA to increase collaboration with state economic development organizations to attract foreign direct investment in the semiconductor industry.
- David Redl (NTIA Administrator 2017 – 2019)
- Lawrence E. Strickling (NTIA Administrator 2009 – 2017)
- Meredith Attwell Baker (Acting NTIA Administrator 2007 – 2008)
- John Kneuer (NTIA Administrator 2006 – 2007)
- Michael Gallagher (NTIA Administrator 2003 – 2006)
- Nancy Victory (NTIA Administrator 2001 – 2003)
- Greg Rohde (NTIA Administrator 1999 – 2001)
- Larry Irving (NTIA Administrator 1993 – 1999)
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