Removing Barriers Blog

Make Up of FCC in New Administration Remains Unclear
Posted December 01, 2016 by CUNA Advocacy

Currently, the Federal Communications Commission is made up of five Commissioners with three Democratic appointees and two Republican appointees. With the pending change in Republican takeover, it will swap and there will be three Republican Commissioners and two Democratic Commissioners. Also, historically the FCC Chairman steps down and allows the President to appoint a new Chairman, however, there is no requirement that they must do so.  

Tom Wheeler is the current Chairman and his term is not up until November 2018. Despite the precedent that he would step down prior to the new Administration taking over, he has not yet done so. Some are questioning whether he may stay until the end of his term. 

Another Democratic Commissioner is Jessica Rosenworcel, and her reconfirmation is currently being held up in the Senate. Chairman of the Senate Commerce Committee, John Thune (R-SD), has indicated that Republican opposition to Rosenworcel’s confirmation could be dropped if Chairman Wheeler steps down from his post. 

Both Wheeler and Rosenworcel supported the FCC’s July 2015 Telephone Consumer Protection Act Omnibus ruling that continues to harm credit unions' ability to communicate with members via cellphone call or text. Rosensworcel even went so far as to oppose the exemption to the Order for financial institutions, that albeit is not very helpful anyway for credit unions because of the stringent requirements that must be met to qualify for it. 

CUNA will continue to follow the confirmation process in the Senate and any actions by Chairman Wheeler or President-elect Trump concerning the make-up of the FCC. The construct of the Commission could be very important as CUNA seeks relief for credit unions in the new Administration from the onerous TCPA Order.