Senate approves Democrat Geoffrey Starks for open FCC seat.
The Federal Communications Commission will once again have a full lineup of five commissioners, with three Republicans and two Democrats. The FCC has had three Republicans but only one Democrat since Mignon Clyburn left the agency in May 2018.
Democrat Geoffrey Starks has been in line to replace Clyburn since June and was confirmed by the US Senate in a voice vote yesterday. Starks will join Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel as one of two Democrats; the FCC’s Republicans are Chairman Ajit Pai, Michael O’Rielly, and Brendan Carr.
Rosenworcel congratulated Starks in a statement, saying, “I look forward to working together on a broad range of our shared goals, from protecting consumers to serving the public interest to ensuring that every American has a fair shot at success in the digital age.”
Starks was an FCC staffer, serving as assistant chief of the commission’s Enforcement Bureau. He will fill a term that expires in June 2022.
The Senate yesterday also confirmed Carr for another term that will last through December 2023. Carr joined the FCC last year but was filling out a term that was nearly expired.
By rule, the president’s party maintains a one-vote majority on the FCC. Starks joining the commission thus won’t prevent Pai’s Republican majority from pursuing its deregulatory agenda, but having two Democrats will likely result in a more robust and vocal minority.
Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.), Commerce Committee chairman, said that yesterday’s confirmation vote “finally gives us a full FCC to decide important questions about spectrum management, the deployment of broadband to underserved communities, and building next-generation wireless networks.”
Starks was nominated to the FCC by President Trump on the advice of Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY). By tradition, the president appoints opposite-party commissioners based on recommendations from the opposing party.