FCC nominee Gigi Sohn withdraws after Joe Manchin opposes
Gigi Sohn — President Biden’s controversial pick for a seat on the Federal Communications Commission — was withdrawn Tuesday hours after Democratic Sen. Joe Mnuchin said he would oppose her confirmation.
Manchin cited Sohn’s “years of partisan activism, inflammatory statements online and working with far-left groups” for refusing to endorse him to fill an open spot on the five-member FCC.
The progressive telecommunications lawyer previously suggested the FCC should investigate whether the right-leaning Sinclair Broadcast Group was “eligible” for a broadcast license and retweeted posts that called for the police to defund it.
Sohn also faced intense pushback from Republican lawmakers who argued he had a history of anti-conservative bias.
The FCC’s five-member committee is currently deadlocked with two Democrats and two Republicans. Sohn’s candidacy has stalled since he was first nominated for the post by Biden in October 2021.
“The FCC deadlock, now more than two years old, will last a long time,” Sohn said in a statement. “Unfortunately the American people are the real losers here. As someone who has advocated for affordable, accessible broadband for every American for my entire career, it’s ironic that a 2-2 FCC would sideline the most consequential opportunity for broadband in our lifetime. “
Sohn could not afford to lose Democratic supporters in the Senate, where the party hung on to a slim 51-49 majority. In addition to Manchin, Sen. Jackie Rosen (D-Nev.) also expressed concerns about Sohn.
Mnuchin (DW.Va.) said the FCC needs a commissioner who “stands above the toxic bias that Americans are sick and tired of, and Ms. Sohn has clearly shown that she is not the person to do that.” is.”
Sohn’s exit is another blow to the Biden administration as it tries to push through sweeping Internet-related reforms, including the restoration of “net neutrality” rules that were unknown under former President Donald Trump.
Sohn’s third confirmation hearing before the Senate Commerce Committee last month featured a significant clash with Republican Sen. Ted Cruz, who criticized him for making a series of donations to Democratic senators while his nomination was pending.
“The withdrawal of Ms. Sohn’s nomination is a major victory and demonstrates a strong bipartisan agreement that we need a fair and impartial candidate who can win the support necessary for confirmation,” Cruz said in a statement Tuesday. ,” Cruz said in a statement Tuesday. “The FCC is not a place for partisan activists; Free speech is very important. Now, the time has come for the Biden administration to present a nominee who can be confirmed by the full Senate and is committed to serving as a hands-on and truly independent regulator. “
Sohn said his decision to withdraw came after “brutal, unscrupulous and brutal attacks” by lobbyists intent on blocking his confirmation.
“It is a sad day for our country and our democracy when dominant industries, aided by immense black money, choose their own regulators,” Sohn said in a statement. to the Washington Post. “And with the help of their friends in the Senate, powerful cable and media companies have done just that.”
White House press secretary Karyn Jean-Pierre, who confirmed Sohn’s exit, had “no updates to share” about potential replacement candidates.
“We applaud Gigi Sohn’s candidacy for this important role,” Jean-Pierre said during his Tuesday press briefing. “He would have brought a lot of wisdom and experience, which is why the president nominated him in the first place.”
With post wire