The Senate Commerce Committee on Thursday voted to advance the nominations of Federal Communications Commission (FCC) pick Gigi Sohn and Federal Trade Commission (FTC) pick Alvaro Bedoya, sending the nominations to the Senate floor.
Both nominations were deadlocked at 14-14, but under Senate rules can advance to the floor.
During their confirmation process Sohn and Bedoya each attracted stiff opposition from committee Republicans, who highlighted past partisan statements as well as potential conflicts of interest as reasons to oppose their nominations.
Bedoya was criticized during his hearing for past tweets, public statements and published work in which he criticized U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) for alleged “domestic surveillance” of American citizens. Sohn drew the ire of Republicans for appearing to call for government censorship of conservative media when criticizing Fox News, as well as her history of left-wing activism.
Sohn previously served as director of Locast, an online streaming service that retransmitted local television broadcasts over the internet. The organization was shut down in October 2021 after broadcasters sued and a judge ruled the service to be in violation of copyright law, requiring it to pay $32 million in damages.
It was later revealed Locast cut a favorable deal with broadcasters to reduce liability just one day after Sohn’s nomination.
Sohn initially struggled to win over Senate Commerce Democrats, requiring several meetings to earn the backing of several members, including Montana Sen. Jon Tester. Former Democratic North Dakota Sen. Heidi Heitkamp came out in opposition to Sohn’s nomination, arguing she would disfavor rural broadband deployment.
The nominations will now move to the Senate floor and are set to hand the Democrats a majority on both the FCC and FTC if Sohn and Bedoya are confirmed. The agencies had previously been split 2-2.
Bedoya’s presence at the FTC would likely help Chairwoman Lina Khan pursue stronger antitrust enforcement, particularly in technology markets, where she has faced opposition from the agency’s Republican commissioners. Sohn is a strong supporter of a return to a net neutrality regulatory framework under Title II of the Communications Act of 1934, and she would likely be a voice advocating for stricter government oversight of broadband networks at the FCC.
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