WASHINGTON, November 18, 2021 – Senators tasked Wednesday with questioning Federal Communications Commission chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel as part of her confirmation hearing urged the Commerce, Science and Transportation committee to hurry her through the process so she can focus on implementing critical initiatives, including better broadband maps that will be used to effectively implement the billions allocated in the infrastructure bill passed into law this week.
Rosenworcel was selected by President Joe Biden to be the permanent head of the agency late last month after being selected as the interim head following his inauguration as president. She now must get confirmation from the Senate.
Wednesday’s largely welcoming hearing included members expressing urgency to confirm Rosenworcel to the FCC before her term expires on January 3, 2022.
“We have a once in a lifetime opportunity to nominate someone who will effectively implement the infrastructure law to address the digital divide’s impact on disadvantaged communities,” said Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Connecticut.
“[Rosenworcel] has been a distinguished champion, energetic and compassionate champion on a number of issues, including robocalls, net neutrality, and providing spectrum coordination.” Blumenthal, who said he was “honored to introduce [Rosenworcel] as the nominee,” has worked closely with Rosenworcel since her confirmation to the FCC as a commissioner in 2012.
Sen. Brian Schatz, D-Hawaii, said it was “important” that Rosenworcel’s nomination goes through the committee’s markup process to expedite her confirmation.
The warm reception at committee was in line with a previous request from lawmakers representing 17 states urging Biden to nominate Rosenworcel as the permanent head of the agency.
Rosenworcel addresses mapping
Rosenworcel answered a number of questions from Senators about the FCC’s progress on completing its broadband mapping ahead of more federal funding to deploy broadband.
Rosenworcel told Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minnesota, that to overcome challenges in funding broadband programs from the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act – which became law this week – funding communities “requires good execution to do it well.
"We need to make smart decisions about where to fund and deploy,” she said. “All of the funding for the infrastructure bill depends on the mapping.” By confirming her nomination to the FCC, Rosenworcel says she would “get the money out quickly after getting mapping” and focus on “putting a premium on the projects we can complete fastest.”
The FCC released a statement of objectives this month to commission mobile wireless and fixed broadband data for better mapping. Mapping faults, such as that from relying on less-than-reliable internet service provider data, was most prominently seen from the fallout of the Rural Digital Opportunity Fund’s reverse auction. The new initiative is part of the Broadband Deployment Accuracy and Technological Availability Act, which became law last year.
“We need to make sure 100 percent of us in this country have access to fast, affordable, and reliable broadband—every household, every business, every consumer, everyone, everywhere,” she said. ‘If confirmed, it will be an honor to lead this charge,” Rosenworcel said.
“If confirmed, I pledge to listen to this Committee, which not that long ago I had the great honor of serving as counsel. And if confirmed, I pledge more broadly to listen to the Congress, those with business before the FCC and above all—the American people.”
To read this article on Broadband Breakfast, visit https://broadbandbreakfast.com/2021/11/senators-citing-funding-influx-press-need-to-confirm-rosenworcel/.