The United States Senate confirmed President Trump's two new picks for the Commissioners of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) — Jessica Rosenworcel and Brendan Carr — and has hence filled the two openings that the agency had for the last seven months. Rosenworcel returned to the FCC after a period of absence caused by partisan disputes in the U.S. Parliament which consequently prevented her from having her re-nomination approved in time for the agency's first 2017 session. The two Commissioners have mostly polar stances on not only the issues that the federal agency manages but also the role of the FCC itself; Rosenworcel is a Democrat advocating for the body to operate in largely the same manner in which it did under the former Chairman Tom Wheeler, whereas Carr previously sided with the current FCC chief Ajit Pai and his position that the agency should have a limited jurisdiction and apply a light regulatory touch to the telecommunications industry.
The difference in opinions between the two newly appointed Commissioners extends to their stances on net neutrality, currently one of the most heatedly debated topics in the country. Rosenworcel has been an outspoken advocate of net neutrality for years, whereas Carr shares Pai's views that the current legal framework defending the open Internet principles stifles innovation by discouraging investments, thus negatively affecting job growth in the country. Carr worked as a lawyer in the telecommunications industry before joining Pai as his legal counsel in 2014, subsequently being named the FCC's general counsel when the current Chairman started presiding over the agency in early 2017.
The new appointments hence shouldn't affect the outcome of any FCC vote on the subject of net neutrality as Rosenworcel and Carr are expected to cancel each other's votes due to their diametrically opposite stances on the issue, leaving the current composition of the agency still in favor of repealing the Title II regulations that classify Internet service providers (ISPs) as utility companies and consequently prevent them from selling prioritized access to their services. The net neutrality debate is expected to continue in the coming months, with some industry watchers estimating that the FCC could repeal the existing regulatory framework by the end of the year.