Enough Is Enough: The Senate Should Stop Playing Games And Confirm Gigi Sohn

from the the-fcc-has-work-to-do dept

Joe Biden entered office a year ago with a mandate to end corporate control of our government by establishing programs to benefit working families and by appointing qualified public servants to execute and oversee those programs.

We anticipated all along that Mitch McConnell would resort to his usual tactics and use the Senate filibuster rules to undermine President Biden’s legislative agenda. Appointments should have been a different story. Nearly a decade has passed since Senate Democrats put an end to the filibuster for executive nominations, yet Republicans, on behalf of their corporate sponsors, continue to abuse the confirmation process, preventing President Biden from fulfilling his promises to the American people. Senate Democrats should recognize these games for what they are, stop enabling the obstruction, and move forward on approving President Biden’s highly qualified nominees.

Take, for example, the nomination of Gigi Sohn to the Federal Communications Commission. Sohn’s strong credentials include co-founding the communications policy advocacy organization Public Knowledge and serving as counselor to former FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler. She is known as a long-time, tireless advocate for the expansion of affordable internet access – one of the key issues on the Democrats’ agenda. There is currently a vacant seat on the FCC, and without a full commission it will be difficult to advance the policies necessary to expand affordable broadband service to the millions of American families left on the wrong side of the digital divide.

One person – Sen. Roger Wicker, the Ranking Member of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation – is standing in the way.

Sen. Wicker is promoting the interests of his big corporate campaign donors by preventing a pro-consumer, pro-worker majority at the Federal Communications Commission. Ever since Gigi Sohn was nominated, he has come up with bogus reasons to delay her confirmation vote. During her confirmation hearing she answered questions for hours. She provided reams of written materials and followed up with answers to additional questions. Six weeks later, Wicker asked for yet more documents and suddenly announced that the committee needed to hold yet another confirmation hearing.

Why did he not request such documents in a timely manner? Why did he not submit written questions for the record, standard practice for the committee? Why did he not accept the conclusions of government lawyers who carefully reviewed the very documents he claims to now seek? Because it’s not about getting answers. It’s about standing in the way of a highly qualified nominee simply because he doesn’t like the outcome of the last Presidential election. Sen. Wicker wants an FCC majority that puts corporate profits first, not one that considers what is best for consumers and workers in the industry and that listens to the majority of Americans – Republican and Democrat – who support net neutrality and universal broadband access.

Make no mistake. This is yet another Republican attempt to undermine our democratic system and the functioning of the federal government. They might not be scaling the Capitol walls, wearing face paint, threatening to hang elected officials who don’t kowtow to their demands, and publicly parading confederate flags in the halls of the Capitol, but Senate Republicans are trying to undermine the 2020 election results by playing every game possible to prevent a duly elected Administration from having qualified nominees serving on federal agencies. We have seen time and time again that Republicans will use every trick in the book to prevent oversight of their powerful corporate benefactors.

Unfortunately, after the vote last week by the U.S. Senate, Republican obstructionists will continue to be able to use the legislative filibuster to block critical legislation that will improve the lives of millions of working Americans. But my union helped lead the successful effort during the Obama Administration to eliminate their ability to filibuster qualified and critical nominees so that the federal government can function on behalf of the American people.

That is why Senate Democrats must not give in to these outrageous and egregious efforts to draw out the already long confirmation process for qualified nominees like Gigi Sohn. They must recognize these games for what they are and reject the never ending requests for even more hearings when they have had ample time to ask their questions. Senate Democrats must move forward expeditiously to approve Gigi Sohn and President Biden’s other highly qualified nominees.

Christopher M. Shelton is President of the Communications Workers of America (CWA)

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Comments on “Enough Is Enough: The Senate Should Stop Playing Games And Confirm Gigi Sohn”

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30 Comments
This comment has been deemed insightful by the community.
Toom1275 (profile) says:

Remember that the primary reason Nathan Simpington is on the FCC board is specifically to create the current 2-2 deadlock preventing anything objectively good from happening.

(The reason it’s him specifically over any other toadie was he was loudest in licking Trump’s illegal censorious jackboots.)

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Rio Linda says:

one more lawyer

….way too strident and hyper-partisan to be a persuasive essay.

Controversy in the routine re-stocking of senior Federal bureaucrats is quite normal and is correcectly ignored by the American public.

Moderate Democrats on the Senate Commerce Committee Jon Tester and Kyrsten Sinema are also holding up Sohn’s nomination, expressing concerns over her prior involvement with streaming service Locast.
Republicans are not her sole opponnents.

Democrats and Republicans both eagerly use the Filibuster when it suits their partisan objectives.

Biden has no mandate for anything.
He was a very weak candidate and weaker President, who stumbled into the WhiteHouse on a Anbody-But-Trump sentiment.
Biden’s Democrat Base is crumbling daily at his incompetency.

One more lawyer (or not) in the Potomac cesspool makes no difference to the nation.

That One Guy (profile) says:

Re: Annd BINGO, nice

Make up your mind, is having a deliberately created 2-2 deadlock broken by having ‘one more lawyer’ no big deal, in which case why are they trying to hard to keep her out of office, or isn’t it?

As for the rest of your comment bloody hell it’s like a political garbage buzzword bingo all-square, from ‘it doesn’t matter’ to ‘the other side does it too’, capped with the modern version of ‘But Obama’ that is ‘But Biden’.

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dickeyrat says:

"This is yet another Republican attempt to undermine our democratic system…"
Not much to be added here. 99% of your Rethugnicans these late days are sniveling, groveling Fascists at the quick worship of Lord-god Trump, drooling at his bone-spurred fat feet, begging his fleeting approval and for the honour of salving his insatiable Ego. In all my wildest observations of the 1960s and ’70s, I never would have predicted this country going so far off the rails. The proven Amerikan entity known as "Democracy" is being beaten to death before our eyes, and the idiot Amerikan public is as happy as not to see it happen. Just make sure they can keep their "Dancing With The Stars", and "The Bachelor". What else could Life be all about, anyway??

Anonymous Coward says:

it’s quite obvious that it is more important to the like of Mitch McConnell to undermine the duly elected Democratic President and try to do whatever he and his cronies can to ensure that the Republican Party takes priority ofer the American people. sure, Biden isn’t going to get everything right, there isn’t a government that is ‘for the people’ that has or ever will but to put self-serving agenders before those who are supposed to be the most important, regardless of which side of the aisle you are on, is absolutely disgraceful! trouble is, the people dont even make corrections when they are given the opportunity!

Anonymous Coward says:

As noted, the Democrat’s have previously suspended the filibuster rules to pass appointments, which they currently have the votes to do as a party. If the Republican’s are blocking appointments with the filibuster they do so with the implicit approval of the Democrat’s who, again as noted in this very article, are not suspending the filibuster so that Republican’s make use of it to block the appointments.

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Anonymous Coward says:

"e anticipated all along that Mitch McConnell would resort to his usual tactics and use the Senate filibuster rules to undermine President Biden’s legislative agenda."

So the Democrats used the filibuster 327 times in 2020, and the republicans used it once.

For a party so against the filibuster, they sure do use it a lot when it’s convenient for them.

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Anonymous Coward says:

Make no mistake. This is yet another Republican attempt to undermine our democratic system and the functioning of the federal government.

The federal government is not a democratic system and never was one. It is explicitly an anti-democratic consensus system designed to prevent anything from happening without broad agreement.

In a nation as large and diverse as the 18th century United States — let alone the modern continent-spanning 50-state version! — the Framers of the Constitution realized this important point: any policy that can’t get general agreement from the entirety of the country does not belong as a broadly applicable law governing the entirety of the country. (If the folks in State A want to do something that the folks in State B think is an awful idea, they’re free to make it the law in their own state, but ought to stay out of the business of the people in State B.)

For all their faults, Republicans today still understand this. Why don’t Democrats? We all learned this stuff in middle school Civics, didn’t we?

Samuel Abram (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Hard to believe fascist rethuglicans are called "populists" when there are sophist apologists like you defending élitism and calling it republicanism.

The constituency the GOP represents is a minority of the population. They know this, otherwise they wouldn’t be trying to repress the vote.

Also, a republic is a form of a democracy. Saying "iTs NoT a DeMoCrAcY iTs A rEpUbLiC" is like saying "it’s not a bird, it’s a parrot" or "it’s not a car, it’s a Camry".

You’re an anti-intellectual élitist pretending to be an intellectual populist.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

I didn’t say "iTs NoT a DeMoCrAcY iTs A rEpUbLiC." I said that the Federal government was deliberately set up to be anti-democratic. It’s much more than just "a republic;" it’s a consensus-oriented system designed specifically to thwart democracy at the national level and redirect it to the states.

At the national level, we need something much stronger than democracy.

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Anonymous Coward says:

I can’t help but to read the long, and fairly complete list of failures the Democrat Party has enjoyed since Biden’s taken office. Afghanistan, Social Spending, Covid, Shortages, Tax Cuts for the Super Rich (SALT), Inflation, the Border, I could go on all day. The Democrats are a total disaster, and all they can do is blame the Republicans. It’s really sad.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

Take your pick.

The left thinks it’s a disaster because of the Haitians and are blaming Biden.

https://www.cnn.com/2021/09/21/opinions/migrants-border-horses-haiti-lawrence/index.html

The right thinks its a disaster because of various reasons. I probably don’t need to go into all of them. A simple google search would be sufficient.

Brett Glass says:

Sohn is a terrible choice.

Sohn should never have a seat on the FCC. She founded a Big Tech lobbying shop known as "Public Knowledge," which got millions of dollars from Google and other Big Tech monopolists to promote their interests. She then worked for the FCC as a staffer, where she pushed the interests of those same companies. She then exited the revolving door to the Open Society Foundations, which own billions of dollars’ worth of Google stock, and continued to promote Google’s interests. We don’t want or need a Big Tech lobbyist on the FCC; that way lies corruption. There are far better choices.

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