Senate votes to approve Anna Gomez as 5th FCC Commissioner

Today, the U.S. Senate finally approved a nominee to fill the vacant, fifth seat on the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). The Senate voted 55 to 43 to approve Anna Gomez as the fifth FCC Commissioner. Her term will be for five years from July 1, 2021, so effectively about three years.

Gomez most recently has served as a senior advisor on communications policy at the Bureau of Cyberspace and Digital Policy. She was also deputy administrator at the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) from 2009 to 2013. The NTIA is not only important as the advisor to the President on national spectrum policy, but the agency is also currently overseeing the Broadband Equity, Access and Deployment (BEAD) program.

Gomez also served for 12 years in various positions at the FCC, including as deputy chief of the International Bureau and as senior legal advisor to former FCC Chairman William Kennard.

In addition to her government service, Gomez is also a telecommunications attorney, having been a partner in the telecom and technology group at Wiley LLP. She also has prior corporate experience having worked as vice president for Federal and State Government Affairs at Sprint Nextel.

After her nomination, Gomez received endorsements from many in government, from telecom trade associations and notably from Tom Reid, chief legal officer of Comcast. Reid said in a statement at the time of Gomez’s nomination that Gomez’s “deep knowledge across the breadth of issues before the FCC makes her exceptionally qualified to be a Commissioner.”

Her confirmation today finally gives the FCC a 3-2 Democratic majority since Biden took office in January 2021.

FCC Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel has had to contend with a Commission split 2-2 between Democrats and Republicans, and thus has not been able to advance anything but the most bland policy issues, leaving anything more contentious off the table.

With Gomez on the Commission, Rosenworcel could tackle issues such as restoring network neutrality or denying broadcast licenses to Fox – an issue that has arisen in the Philadelphia market.

Gomez was Biden’s second nominee for the FCC position. In October 2021 Biden nominated Gigi Sohn as the fifth Commissioner. But her Senate confirmation process met hostile resistance from Republicans and dragged on for 16 months. Sohn withdrew her nomination this March.

Sohn blamed corporate interests, including cable companies, for engaging in dark-money lobbying to prevent her approval to the FCC.