Matters 'Squared' Away for Nominees?

Threatened hold on FCC nominees may be lifted with release of LightSquared documents to House Energy & Commerce Committee
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It’s looking more likely that when the FCC releases LightSquared documents to the House Energy & Commerce Committee, as expected, the threatened hold on two FCC nominees will be lifted, though that does not guarantee their confirmation.

According to a well-placed source, backers of Ajit Pai and Jessica Rosenworcel, the Republican and Democratic nominees, respectively, for two open FCC seats, are pushing for action on the noms before the Easter break, and the impediment to that action also could be ready to move.

Said “action” would come with full Senate confirmation of the president’s nominees, since both sailed through their Senate Commerce Committee hearing vote with bipartisan backing.

Standing in the way has been Sen. Charles Grassley (R-Iowa), and his anger at the FCC for not giving up LightSquared documents, or making a couple of top FCC personnel—one staffer and one ex-staffer—available to discuss the waiver. The FCC has declined, stating that Grassley is not chairman of a relevant oversight committee.

Grassley’s shadow has remained over the noms. But after one of those ranking chairmen, Fred Upton (R-Mich.), asked for LightSquared docs and House Communications Subcomittee chairman Greg Walden (R-Ore.) indicated he would share them, a Grassley rep told B&C/Multichannel News last week that this could break the logjam, even if the FCC does not make the staffers available. “If Sen. Grassley receives access to the documents, he’d consider releasing his hold on the nominees,” the Grassley staffer said.

That “consider” leaves some wiggle room, and the staffer indicated that a release wouldn’t mean Grassley is necessarily pleased with the FCC, only that he would let the nominee process continue.

That would leave the nominees clear to face the next possible hurdle: being victims of the ongoing partisan battle between Hill Republicans and Democrats over nominations.