Joe Manchin to vote against Biden’s FCC pick Gigi Sohn
Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin said Tuesday that he will vote against Gigi Sohn’s confirmation as Federal Communications Commission commissioner, potentially jeopardizing her nomination by President Biden.
Democrats have failed to lead a majority of the five-member telecom regulator since January 2021, stalling the party’s efforts to reinstate historic net neutrality rules that were repealed under Republican President Donald Trump. The open internet laws try to prohibit internet providers from blocking or slowing down traffic or offering paid fast lanes.
Manchin said in a statement that the FCC needed a leader who would “stay above the toxic partisanship that Americans are sick and tired of, and Ms. Sohn has clearly shown that she is not the person to do that.”
Sohn and the White House did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
The Democrats have a narrow 51-49 majority in the Senate.
Sohn, who was first nominated in October 2021, had her third hearing before the Senate Commerce Committee in February, telling lawmakers that industry opponents “fear a pragmatic, pro-competition, pro-consumer policymaker who policies will support more, faster, and cheaper broadband.”
Republicans in February offered a sweeping indictment against Sohn, a former senior aide to then-FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler, on a number of grounds, accusing her of misleading Congress, which she rejected.
Many Democrats said the Republicans bid for powerful telecom companies who didn’t want to deal with regulation from the FCC, which is still split 2-2 between Democrats and Republicans.
In July 2021, Biden signed an executive order encouraging the FCC to reinstate open internet net neutrality rules.
At least two Democrats were undecided, including Sen. Jacky Rosen, who cited serious concerns expressed by some law enforcement groups that she said were “giving her pause” over Sohn’s nomination.