Senate confirms new FCC Commissioners Carr and Starks

The Senate has officially confirmed incoming FCC commissioners Brendan Carr and Geoffrey Starks for their five-year terms. This completes the five-seat commission, which is required to be balanced between the two parties — today’s additions bring it to three Republicans and two Democrats.

Carr, nominated and previously confirmed in August of 2017 (though only just now for his full term), was an advisor to FCC Chairman Ajit Pai during his time as a Commissioner, and before that worked at a law firm that works with telecoms. He’s the Republican of the two.

Starks was nominated this last June and has worked in the FCC’s Enforcement Bureau (think fines and legal threats) and the Justice Department.

A tweet from the Senate Cloakroom account, operated by Republican staff on the floor there, noted the verbal vote confirming both men. The timing of the terms they serve is unusual in that Starks is starting a term beginning the year before he was nominated, and Carr is starting a new term a year after he was confirmed; this is slightly confusing but it’s just the way things work over there. (An FCC representative helped me understand this.)

Chairman Pai issued a statement welcoming both Commissioners to their positions:

I congratulate Geoffrey on his Senate confirmation.  He brings a wealth of experience and expertise, including having served most recently as Assistant Chief in the Enforcement Bureau.  During his confirmation hearing, I was excited to hear him highlight the need to expand rural broadband and the power of telemedicine.  I look forward to working with him and having a fellow Kansan on the Commission.

I also congratulate Brendan on his confirmation to a full term.  Brendan has done tremendous work on a number of issues, including his leadership on wireless infrastructure modernization.  He has also been a staunch advocate for rural broadband deployment, particularly for precision agriculture and advancements in telemedicine.

Commissioners Carr, O’Rielly, and Rosenworcel all tweeted out welcomes as well:

A full Commission means more work gets done, since these people and their staffs have to come up with and enforce all the rules on the books. It may be politically expedient to have a 2:1 Republican majority on the Commission when taking controversial measures like rolling back net neutrality rules, but ultimately the job to be done needs five.