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U.S. Senate panel sets new hearing for Biden telecom nominee



FILE PHOTO: Gigi Sohn testifies during a Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee confirmation hearing, examining her nomination to be appointed Commissioner of the Federal Communications Commission in Washington, D.C., February 9, 2022. Pete Marovich/Pool via REUTERS

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – A U.S. Senate committee on Tuesday set a third confirmation hearing for the Biden administration’s nominee to a seat on the Federal Communications Commission that has been vacant for more than two years.

President Joe Biden last month renominated Gigi Sohn, a former FCC senior official under President Barack Obama, to serve as a commissioner. Biden first nominated Sohn in October 2021 but she was not confirmed despite hearings in 2021 and 2022.

The Senate Commerce Committee said Tuesday she would appear at a hearing on Feb. 14.

Democrats since January 2021 have been unable to command a majority of the five-member FCC, the telecommunications regulator, stalling Democrats’ efforts to reinstate landmark net neutrality rules revoked under Republican former President Donald Trump.

In July 2021, President Joe Biden signed an executive order encouraging the FCC to reinstate the rules.

Republicans have questioned Sohn’s role as a board member of a nonprofit that operated a transmission service called Locast. It was ordered shut down after four broadcast networks filed a copyright infringement lawsuit.

If confirmed, Sohn has voluntarily agreed to recuse herself on some matters involving retransmission consent and TV broadcast copyright.

Sohn said in 2022 that opposition to her nomination was “about stopping the FCC from ensuring that the media is diverse and serves the needs of local communities. …A deadlocked agency helps almost nobody, save for a few huge corporations.”

Last year, Senate Democrats said that some companies and critics wanted to prevent the FCC from acting.