One of President Biden’s nominees to the Federal Communications Commission, Gigi Sohn, withdrew from consideration for the job on Tuesday, saying she had faced “unrelenting, dishonest and cruel attacks on my character and my career as an advocate for the public interest.”
Ms. Sohn’s announcement came shortly after Senator Joe Manchin, Democrat of West Virginia, said he would vote against her nomination, denying her a crucial vote in a closely divided Senate. In a statement, Mr. Manchin said the commission “must remain above the toxic partisanship that Americans are sick and tired of, and Ms. Sohn has clearly shown she is not the person to do that.”
The F.C.C. has been in a deadlock — with two Democratic commissioners and two Republicans — for years. Although the agency has approved some measures on bipartisan grounds, the split has made it impossible for the Biden administration to pursue its more ambitious priorities like net neutrality rules for internet service providers.
Mr. Biden nominated Ms. Sohn to the commission in October 2021. She had long been a fixture of progressive tech policy in Washington, having pushed for consumer protection measures before serving as an aide to Tom Wheeler, a former chairman of the F.C.C. With Ms. Sohn at his side, Mr. Wheeler pursued sweeping net neutrality rules, which would stop internet providers from favoring certain content, and a measure to open up the market for television set-top boxes.
But Ms. Sohn quickly faced opposition from Republicans who accused her of being too far left to join the commission, which regulates internet providers, broadcast stations and wireless carriers. Despite having support from public interest and civil rights groups, among others, her nomination did not move forward. Mr. Biden renominated her in January.
Ms. Sohn’s decision to withdraw her nomination was first reported by The Washington Post.
“It is a sad day for our country and our democracy when dominant industries, with assistance from unlimited dark money, get to choose their regulators,” Ms. Sohn said in her statement. “And with the help of their friends in the Senate, the powerful cable and media companies have done just that.”
Senator Ted Cruz of Texas, the top Republican on the Commerce Committee, cheered Ms. Sohn’s withdrawal, saying the F.C.C. was “not a place for partisan activists.”
“Now, it’s time for the Biden administration to put forth a nominee who can be confirmed by the full Senate and is committed to serving as an evenhanded and truly independent regulator,” he said.