Wheeler Convinces Cruz to Lift Hold Vote

Senate confirmation of FCC nominees could come tomorrow

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) heard what he wanted to hear from Tom Wheeler, the Federal Communications Commission chairman nominee, and lifted his hold on his nomination, clearing the way for a vote.

The Senate could vote on Wheeler, along with the FCC GOP nominee Mike O'Rielly, as soon as tomorrow, bringing the FCC back up to five commissioners and ending the brief chairmanship of Mignon Clyburn, who has served as acting chairwoman since May. 

Cruz placed his hold vote on Wheeler two weeks ago to get answers to his questions about whether Wheeler thought the FCC has the authority or intent to implement the Disclose Act that failed in Congress. The bill would have required groups taking out political ads to disclose their donors. Many Democrats believed that even though Congress didn't pass the bill, the FCC could implement it anyway, a move the GOP strongly opposed. 

But after a meeting with Wheeler Tuesday afternoon, Cruz was satisfied Wheeler would not do an end-run in the FCC around the bill.

"Mr. Wheeler stated that he had heard the unambiguous message that trying to impose the requirements of the Disclose Act, absent congressional action, would imperil the commission's vital statutory responsibilities, and he explicitly stated that doing so was 'not a priority.' Based on those representations, I have lifted my hold on his nomination, and I look forward to working with him on the FCC to expand jobs and economic growth," Cruz said in a statement.

Had Cruz not lifted the hold, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) was preparing to force a vote. On Monday night, Reid filed a motion for cloture, believing he had the requisite 60 votes to overcome Cruz's hold.