The Senate confirmed Anna Gomez to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) on Thursday, filling the fifth and final seat for the first time since the election of President Joe Biden.
The Senate voted today to advance her nomination, 55-43. Gomez garnered some Republican support as well, such as from Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska).
After more than two and a half years of gridlock, Gomez will end the commission’s partisan split by becoming the third Democrat on the panel.
Gomez, who was previously serving the State Department as a communications policy adviser, was nominated for the position by Biden in May.
Initially, Biden had chosen former FCC staffer Gigi Sohn back in late 2021. Yet the nomination was never approved by the Senate due to widespread pushback from Republicans who accused Sohn of holding radical political views. Sohn would eventually withdraw in March of this year.
“When I accepted his nomination over sixteen months ago, I could not have imagined that legions of cable and media industry lobbyists, their bought-and-paid-for surrogates, and dark money political groups with bottomless pockets would distort my over 30-year history as a consumer advocate into an absurd caricature of blatant lies,” Sohn said at the time.
Unlike Sohn, Gomez received far less pushback from Republicans during her Senate testimony in June. Most of the criticism surrounded the restoration of net neutrality, a key focus for the FCC under Biden.
Particularly, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) argued that Gomez did not possess “the independence and regulatory humility necessary for confirmation.” Cruz also bemoaned the apparent refusal of Gomez “to disavow heavy-handed net neutrality rules.”
Gomez has shown support for reclassifying the internet as Title II, which would label internet service providers as “common carriers.” Such a decision would give the FCC the ability to not only implement net neutrality but enact stricter oversight of the telecom industry.
However, given the time it has taken Biden to staff the FCC, it’s unclear if there is enough working days left to push net neutrality through before the 2024 election.
Prior to her work at the State Department, Gomez served as the FCC’s deputy chief of its international bureau and head of the bureau overseeing landlines for 12 years. Other public work includes a role at the National Telecommunications and Information Administration. Gomez also previously held a position in the private sector with the telecom company Sprint as their vice president of government affairs.
Gomez is now the first Latina to be an FCC commissioner in more than two decades.
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*First Published: Sep 7, 2023, 1:19 pm CDT
Mikael Thalen is a tech and security reporter covering social media, data breaches, hackers, and more.