As expected, Sen. Roger Wicker (R-Miss.) has been tapped to head the powerful Senate Commerce Committee, which has primary oversight of communications issues and the FCC.
Wicker succeeds Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.), who has been named majority whip for the new Congress. He had chaired the committee in the last two Congresses (114th and 115th).
Wicker had been chairman of the Communications Subcommittee, which is historically less active than its House Energy & Commerce counterpart, with most of the work done at the full committee level.
"As a longtime member and the leader of our communications and technology subcommittee, he is poised for a successful tenure as chairman," said Thune. "It has been a great honor to lead the committee for the past four years and I’m proud of the work we have done to pass bipartisan legislation for nearly every federal transportation agency, as well as setting policy impacting science, technology, and our environment."
"NAB and our local Mississippi broadcasters know Sen. Wicker quite well," said National Association of Broadcasters President Gordon Smith. "We believe he will make an outstanding Commerce Committee chair." Smith is speaking from experience. He served with Wicker in the Senate.
“I extend a huge congratulations to Senator Wicker for being named the new Chairman of the Commerce Committee,” said Competitive Carriers Association President Steven K. Berry. “Senator Wicker’s vast experience and industry knowledge make him an excellent choice to fill the position. His deep understanding about what it takes to bring advanced broadband services to rural areas and his work on important issues including Universal Service Fund reform, broadband deployment, access to spectrum, and advancing telehealth services are absolutely critical issues for competitive carriers – especially those serving remote and hard-to-reach locations. I have no doubt he will keep forging ahead until every American has access to the robust services they need and desire, and I look forward to continued work with the Chairman and the entire Committee on its work to close the digital divide.”