By Alina Selyukh
WASHINGTON, March 20 Federal Communications
Commissioner Robert McDowell, the senior member of the agency's
Republican minority, said on Wednesday he will leave in coming
weeks after a seven-year tenure that promoted deregulation of
the Internet and the telecom market.
His exit leaves the five-member panel with three Democrats
and one Republican. It may pave the way for Democratic Chairman
Julius Genachowski - widely expected to leave in coming months
as well - to announce his own exit, in part because a Senate
confirmation of two new commissioners from both political
parties can be smoother to accomplish.
Genachowski on Wednesday said he had "no news" on his plans.
Appointed by then-President George W. Bush in 2006 and
re-appointed by President Barack Obama in 2009, McDowell said
his resignation came at a "natural inflection point" after
Obama's re-election. He said he had no immediate career plans
"I have absolutely no plans other than to take my family on
a much needed vacation starting this weekend," he said at the
FCC's open meeting.
"This is not a time for farewells. I'm just announcing my
plans to step down some time soon."
It remains unclear whom President Obama would nominate for
the newly open position, but the Senate's top Republicans -
Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and ranking Commerce Committee
member John Thune - are expected to select the candidate.