Trump promoted Republican FCC commissioner Ajit Pai to be the next chairman of the Federal Communications Commission yesterday. Pai is a staunch opponent of net neutrality rules.
Pai made the announcement on Twitter Monday afternoon.
— Ajit Pai (@AjitPaiFCC) January 23, 2017
The FCC chairman during the Obama administration, Tom Wheeler (Democrat), announced that he would be stepping down from his post at the end of Obama’s presidency. This is normal when the presidency changes from one political party to another. It simply makes the transfer of power easier for the incoming president.
Politico reported that Pai was the favorite to become the next chairman a few days before the announcement was officially made. There was another Republican commissioner at the FCC, Mike O’Rielly, who could have possibly been awarded the position. However, Pai is the most senior Republican commissioner at the FCC, so it was more likely that he would head the agency under Trump.
While Pai won’t need to be confirmed by the Senate in order to become chairman, his five-year term as a commissioner has already technically expired, so he will need to be reconfirmed by the Senate before the end of the year. Since the GOP has a majority in the Senate, however, it is unlikely that he will be rejected.
Pai has been a foe of net neutrality throughout his entire term as an FCC commissioner.
Here is what Pai had to say about net neutrality in a speech before the Free State Foundation in December 2016, according to Ars Technica:
On the day that the Title II [net neutrality] Order was adopted, I said that ‘I don’t know whether this plan will be vacated by a court, reversed by Congress, or overturned by a future Commission. But I do believe that its days are numbered. Today, I am more confident than ever that this prediction will come true. And I’m hopeful that beginning next year, our general regulatory approach will be a more sober one that is guided by evidence, sound economic analysis, and a good dose of humility.
Under Pai, Republicans will hold a 3-2 majority in the FCC, making it easy for GOP-favored policies to be enacted by the commission.
Even if Pai is against net neutrality, however, there are still ways that the policy could remain safe, even under a Trump presidency. Check out the full analysis of the future of net neutrality here.
What do you think about Trump promoting Pai to head the FCC? What effect do you think this could have on net neutrality rules? Let us know in the comment section below!