Ajit Pai gets second term as FCC Chairman

The Indian American sails through the Senate confirmation process.

Ajit Pai (Courtesy of twitter)

Ajit Pai has got an extension for another term as chairman of the Federal Communication Commission (FCC) on Monday.

Pai, whose term was supposed to end later this year, was reappointed for another term after the Senate approved his nomination.

President Trump had earlier nominated Pai for a second term, as the GOP aims at further accelerating its ambitious tech agenda.

The Indian American was appointed by Trump as the chairman of FCC after the Democratic nominee Tom Wheeler demitted the office earlier this year.

His tenure with the FCC as a commissioner received a one-year extension in July 2016, giving him an opportunity to become the FCC Chairman.

Pai, during the beginning of his tenure as FCC Chairman, faced criticism over his position on net neutrality and his attempts to overturn the Obama-era net neutrality rules.

As a commissioner of FCC, Pai had opposed its approach to net neutrality. He declared publicly that though he supports a set of net neutrality principles, he is against the 2015 Open Internet Order.

The Indian American was reconfirmed by the Senate with a 52-41 vote, with most of the Democrats voting against him. Not all 100 senators were present during the time of voting.

Looking at the breakdown of votes received by Pai, 48 Republicans and four Democrats voted in favor of Pai.

The four Democratic senators who helped Pai gain re-confirmation were Joseph Manchin (D-W.V.); Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.); Gary Peters (D-Mich.); and Jon Tester (D-Mont.).

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The re-nomination of Pai comes just days after a consumer advocacy group Free Press launched a petition titled “Fire FCC Chairman Pai”

Democratic senators had last week opposed the re-nomination of Pai as the FCC Chairman during debate on the Senate floor.

Following his renomination, Pai in an official statement said,”I am deeply grateful to the US Senate for confirming my nomination to serve a second term at the FCC and to President Trump for submitting that nomination to the Senate. Since January, the Commission has focused on bridging the digital divide, promoting innovation, protecting consumers and public safety, and making the FCC more open and transparent. With today’s vote, I look forward to continuing to work with my colleagues to advance these critical priorities in the time to come.”

U.S. Senator Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.) congratulating Pai said: “He truly understands the need to bring more rural communities online and has shown a real commitment to closing the digital divide in America.”ajit-pai-with-moore

“From starting a business to utilizing telemedicine, broadband is critical to strengthening our economy and providing important services to West Virginians, and I know Chairman Pai will continue to support and drive efforts to expand access to the affordable high-speed internet. I was happy to support his reconfirmation and look forward to continuing our work together,” she added.

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Senator Joe Manchin in a statement said “Ajit and I have been working together on a number of ways to bridge the digital divide in our country, especially in West Virginia, including adopting the Mobility Fund II, improving the accuracy of broadband coverage maps, and tailoring the Remote Areas Fund to reach the places that need it most. The Mobility Fund II will provide $4.53 billion to expand broadband access in rural America, and the Remote Areas Fund has the opportunity to deliver a reliable broadband connection to over 12,000 locations across West Virginia. I look forward to working with Ajit and the Commission to make sure that all Americans and West Virginians have access to broadband.”

Ajit Varadaraj Pai was born on January 10, 1973, in Buffalo, New York, to Konkani immigrants from India. Pai attended Harvard University and earned B.A. with honors in Social Studies and a J.D. from the University of Chicago in 1997.

(This post has been updated.)

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