The Republican senator from Texas has put a hold on the nomination of Tom Wheeler as the new chairman of the FCC, stopping the confirmation process that had been on the fast-track as late as last night. Ted Cruz — fresh off his 21-hour CSPAN-friendly speech on the Senate floor that railed against Obamacare — objects to Wheeler’s vague response to questions about whether the FCC should require TV stations and cable operators to disclose the identities of political advertisers. The senator had questioned Wheeler about the issue during his June confirmation hearings. Cruz objects to additional disclosure, saying it could inhibit free speech, and adds that the matter was settled when Congress failed to pass a bill that would have required more disclosure. Wheeler said he needed to examine the issue more before weighing in. Cruz’s office told The Hill today that “Mr. Wheeler had previously declined to give specific answers, but as he’s now expressed his readiness to revisit the senator’s questions, the senator hopes to communicate with him soon.” The move halts confirmation action on Wheeler and Republican FCC nominee Michael O’Rielly. It’s customary to pair appointments from different parties to prevent such holds. The Senate will reconvene on October 28 and no action is expected before then. The FCC is still getting up to speed after its website was shuttered during the just-ended government shutdown, with the agency saying today that it has suspended all filing deadlines until further notice after already suspending the 180-day clock it informally gives itself to determine whether pending deals comply with its rules and serve the public interest. It has been running with three members under acting head Mignon Clyburn since she was sworn in back in May.
Subscribe to Deadline Breaking News Alerts and keep your inbox happy.