The FCC commission is run by 5 people, no more than 3 of which can belong to the same political party. The President chooses the members who serve 5 year terms, subject to Senate confirmation. Past practice is that commissioners are approved in pairs, so that the board doesn’t deadlock 2-2. It needs 3 members to have a quorum. Senate practice has been to allow a single senator to put a nomination on hold, sometimes as extortion for some completely unrelated issue.
The current membership is
Tom Wheeler, Mignon Clyburn, Jessica Rosenworcel
Republicans: Ajit Pai, Michael O’Rielly
In theory, Donald J Trump could appoint a Libertarian and make the Commission 3 Republicans, 1 Democrat and 1 Libertarian. Mignon Clyburn is the daughter of Jim Clyburn, third in line in the House Democratic leadership. Mignon’s prior experience was running a weekly newspaper that rounded up votes for her father in the black community. Her main policy interests have been to protect minority owned radio stations, including intervening to have licenses reinstated when Station owners refused to follow FCC rules.
Wheeler has removed everything controversial from the meeting agenda. The TV Spectrum auction was a dismal failure. Ajit Pai has been on the warpath about Wheeler just writing new rules like net neutrality and not even circulating the proposals for comment – just showing up with the finished product at the meetings, knowing his lackeys would just vote on everything 3-2. It’s the Obama concept of bipartisanship.
Payback is a bitch. When Wheeler resigns on January 20th, Pai is expected to take over as interim chairman. Trump could reappoint Jessica as the 2nd Democrat or propose someone else. Pai could be promoted to permanent chairman or Trump might name someone new. I wonder if Howard Stern is available for the opening.