His previous five-year term expired last year, but commissioners get to stay for up to a year afterward if they haven’t been replaced. Today’s appointment comes a day before Pai and his two remaining colleagues at what’s normally a five-member commission take questions from the Senate Commerce Committee at an oversight hearing.
Pai says that if he’s confirmed by the Senate “I will continue to work with my colleagues to connect all Americans with digital opportunity, foster innovation, protect consumers, promote public safety, and make the FCC more open and transparent to the American people.”
A former lawyer for Verizon, Pai, 44, was raised in Kansas and earned his law degree from the University of Chicago where he edited the law review.
The K-Street crowd was quick to congratulate Pai — who has busily sought to reverse rules adopted under his predecessor, Tom Wheeler, including some designed to enforce net neutrality protections.
National Association of Broadcasters CEO Gordon Smith lauded Pai’s “deep understanding of broadcasting’s indispensable role in serving American communities with free, local and lifeline programming” and urged “speedy confirmation” by the Senate.
Former FCC Chairman Michael Powell, now CEO of NCTA — The Internet & Television Association, praised Pai’s “thoughtful, pro-consumer agenda that focuses on promoting Internet freedom and expanding the benefits of broadband to all Americans.”
Comcast Senior EVP David Cohen says that with Pai as FCC Chairman “consumers can look forward to policies of light regulation that will spur greater investment and innovation and job creation.”
American Cable Association CEO Matthew Polka asked the Senate to confirm Pai, saying that he “has shown that he understands that by applying light-touch regulations and removing barriers to deployment, broadband providers will accelerate their investments in their networks and provide consumers with the bandwidth they need to prosper in a connected economy.”
Consumer and open internet activists who mostly oppose Pai have yet to weigh in on the nomination. But earlier today Consumers Union Senior Policy Counsel Jonathan Schwantes urged the Senate Commerce Committee to sharply question commissioners and “help ensure that all consumers are empowered to participate fully in the modern-day telecommunications marketplace.”