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FCC returns to full force

Senate confirms the nominations of Jessica Rosenworcel and Brendan Carr just in time for a full FCC to vote on the controversial net neutrality rollback.

Senate Holds Confirmation Hearing For Ajit Pai To Remain Head Of FCC
(L-R) Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai and nominees Jessica Rosenworcel and Brendan Carr prepare to testify before the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee during their confirmation hearing.
Chip Somodevilla / Getty Images

The Federal Communications Commission is back to five members for the first time since President Donald Trump took office following a Senate vote Thursday that confirmed Jessica Rosenworcel and Brendan Carr as commissioners.

This is Rosenworcel's second stint at the FCC. She served as an FCC commissioner under the administration, but her tenure lapsed at the end of last year. The last Congress refused to reconfirm her because then FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler wouldn't assure them he'd step down after Trump took office.

That left the FCC with only three commissioners after Wheeler resigned just before Trump's inauguration. Rosenworcel and Mignon Clyburn will serve as the two Democrats on the commission.

Carr, who currently is the general counsel of the FCC, joins Chairman Ajit Pai and Commissioner Michael O'Rielly in the commission's Republican majority.

"As I know from working with each of them for years, they have distinguished records of public service and will be valuable assets to the FCC in the years to come," Pai said in a statement. "Their experience at the FCC makes them particularly well-suited to hit the ground running. "

Rosenworcel and Carr were approved in a voice vote. Trump also nominated Pai for another five-year term, which expires at the end of this year. But the Senate didn't act on that renewal before going on their summer recess.

The FCC will be returning to its full strength just as Pai prepares to rollback net neutrality regulation passed in 2015, which is meant to keep the internet free and open. Congressional Democrats, as well as internet companies such as Amazon, Mozilla and Netflix, say undoing these rules will give large internet providers too much control over the content people access online.

Meanwhile, Republicans and large cable and phone companies say they're all for an open and free internet, but they argue that the legal basis for the rules are antiquated and stifling business investment.  

More than 15 million public comments have been filed in the proceeding. Pai has said he hopes to act on the proposal by the end of the year. 

Intolerance on the Internet: Online abuse is as old as the internet and it's only getting worse. It exacts a very real toll.  

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