“Nathan Simington is the wrong person, and clearly the wrong person at the wrong time for the FCC,” said Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-Connecticut) in the lead-up to today’s vote. “This nomination is dangerous because it threatens the integrity and political independence of the FCC.”
As Motherboard notes, the fear is that Republicans will use Simington’s confirmation to mire the agency in gridlock. By law, the party that wins the presidential election appoints the head of the agency. But if the Senate doesn’t hold confirmation hearings for President-elect Joe Biden’s pick in the new year, the FCC will be split two to two along party lines once current Chairman Ajit Pai steps down on January 20th. Then, when the term of Democratic Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel ends late next year, there’s the additional possibility Republicans could enter 2022 with a two to one majority at the agency. Whether things play out this way will depend on how the Georgia Senate runoff plays out in January. If Democrats win both available seats, they’ll be able to appoint the candidates they see fit.