FCC Commissioner Kathleen Abernathy has sent her resignation to President George W. Bush, saying she will exit Dec. 9, 2005.
The White House has expressed its intention to nominate Democrat Michael Copps to a second term and Tennessee regulatory utility commissioner Deborah Tate to the vacant Republican seat of former Chairman Michael Powell. But there has been no nominee for Abernathy's seat, which she must give up by the end of this legislative session anyway.
"Implicit in the Commission's competition-oriented approach to telecommunications regulation is a recognition of the fact that competition is a journey," waxed Abernathy in a statement. "It is a journey in which there are winners and losers, change and upheaval, and no clear destination where all things are settled and all competitors are satisfied.
" Our effort to create greater regulatory symmetry between cable and telephone company providers of advanced high-speed broadband networks is but one example of that process."Ted Stevens (R-Alaksa), Chairman of the Senate Commerce Committee, was said to have been preparing some names of possible successors to send to the White House, and may even have already submitted them.But it is unlikely a new commissioner could be installed this year.
Abernathy has expressed her desire to exit for months, but her departure just before the December meeting will mean there would only be three commissioners for that session. That is unless the Senate Commerce Committee can confirm Tate before that, which one source said might well happen by the second week in December
Still, the best-case scenario for FCC Chairman Kevin Martin is probably that he will still have a two-two split, Republicans and Democrats, until the first of next year.