Ness on hold

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Democratic FCC Commissioner Susan Ness may find her nomination bottled up in the Commerce Committee through the end of the congressional session.

If the Senate does not confirm her for a second, five-year term, her job will end in October, when the current congressional session ends. Ness already has a de facto job extension-her term ended last June, but commissioners are permitted to remain until their replacements have been confirmed. Hill sources say Senate Commerce Committee Chairman John McCain (R-Ariz.) is not inclined to move on Ness.

Ness does have supporters in the committee who can pressure McCain: ranking member Ernest Hollings (D-S.C.), Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.) and Olympia Snowe (R-Maine). Even if the Ness matter gets out of committee, the opposition of a single senator can thwart her on the Senate floor.

Most agree Ness'best chance is as part of a deal Republicans may strike to get some of their nominees approved, although no such deal is currently in the works.