The Federal Trade Commission is back up to its full strength Wednesday after the Senate voted 95-1 to confirm Terrell McSweeny to be the third Democratic commissioner on the five-member agency, giving the Democrats on the commission a majority.
Having five commissioners is critical to merger rulings, which require a majority vote to block or intervene in a transaction.
It took 10 months for the Senate to finally confirm McSweeny, who was nominated by President Obama last June.
A former domestic policy advisor to vice president Joe Biden, McSweeny was most recently a senior counsel of competition policy in the antitrust division at the Department of Justice.
Given her statements during her Senate commerce confirmation hearing last September, McSweeny is likely to vote in lockstep with the other two Democratic commissioners, chairwoman Edith Ramirez and Julie Brill.
During her confirmation hearing, McSweeny expressed strong concerns about consumer privacy and data collection, as well as extending consumer privacy protections to teenagers.
"I'm often struck by how little most of us know about how information is collected and used online," she said during the hearing.
With the balance of power shifting at the commission, that could lead to a bigger push for privacy and heightened scrutiny of online behavioral advertising.
"An increased voice at the FTC favoring enhanced privacy protection may fuel continued efforts for regulation in this area, including the potential for the passage of Do Not Track legislation," said Linda Goldstein, a partner with Manatt, Phelps & Phillips.
"We are delighted that the Senate has confirmed Terrell McSweeny to serve as an FTC commissioner. Terrell is a dedicated public servant, and we look forward to working with her on the many important issues facing the commission," said Ramirez.
The two Republican FTC commissioners are Maureen Ohlhausen and Joshua Wright.