President Donald Trump is expected to tap senior Republican Commissioner Ajit Pai as the next head of the Federal Communications Commission.
According to a Politico report late last week citing multiple sources, the announcement could be made any day, enabling Pai to take over immediately since he has already been confirmed by the Senate to serve on the Commission under former President Barack Obama (though he would need to be reconfirmed sometime this year).
The news follows reports of Pai’s meeting with Trump early last week at Trump Tower in New York City, and White House spokesman Sean Spicer’s subsequent slip calling Pai “the current FCC chairman.”
With former Chairman Tom Wheeler and Democratic Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel out of the picture, Pai will head the FCC with a new Republican majority. And it seems Pai is set on using that advantage to roll back some of the measures Wheeler passed in narrow votes himself. In particular, Pai has been vocally opposed to reclassification under Title II, net neutrality, and limits on zero rating offers from wireless carriers.
Back in December, Pai said in a speech Title II’s “days are numbered” and hinted at further changes, saying “We need to fire up the weed whacker and remove those rules that are holding back investment, innovation, and job creation.” And earlier this month, Pai responded to the FCC’s finding that Verizon and AT&T’s zero rating offerings were harmful to consumers with a comment that he was “confident that this latest regulatory spasm will not have any impact on the Commission’s policymaking or enforcement activities” after the inauguration.
There will, however, be some heavy lifting involved for Pai to reverse Wheeler’s course, especially when it comes to Title II. Since the rationale for that measure in particular was upheld by the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals, another legal challenge would have to go through the Supreme Court. If the FCC simply doesn’t want to implement the provisions of the order, though, that’s a different story.
Filed Under: Industry regulations