The Federal Communications Commission will soon be at full strength with five commissioners now that Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) agreed to lift the hold he put on the two nominees President Obama named last November.
The soonest the Senate could vote on Republican Ajit Pai and Democrat Jessica Rosenworcel would be May 7, when the chamber returns from a brief recess.
From the moment the two were nominated, they were caught in the middle of a beef Grassley has had with the FCC over the way the agency handled LightSquared's requests to expand a wireless network. After much posturing, Grassley finally has begun to get the documents he wants to investigate the matter and on Friday issued a statement saying he would lift his hold.
The logjam was broken earlier this week when Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.), out of frustration, called the FCC to shake loose documents that Grassley had been denied because he didn't sit on the Commerce Committee, which Rockefeller chairs. (Nominee Rosenworcel was the former communications council for the Senate Commerce Committee under Rockefeller.)
"I am glad that the unreasonable hold against two qualified and smart FCC nominees, Jessica Rosenworcel and Ajit Pai, has been lifted," Rockefeller said. "They are each ready to do this tough job, and I especially want to thank leaders [Mitch] McConnell (R-Ky.) and [Harry] Reid (D-Nev.) for working cooperatively to advance these nominations in the face of stubborn delay tactics."
Since late last year, the FCC has been conducting business with only three commissioners, Democrats Julius Genachowski (chairman) and Mignon Clyburn and Republican Robert McDowell.