| WASHINGTON, March 27
WASHINGTON, March 27 U.S. Senate Democrats are
pressing President Barack Obama to elevate Federal
Communications Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel to become the
agency's first female chair, according to a letter obtained by
FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski will leave the commission in
coming weeks and the letter to Obama, signed by 37 senators,
calls Rosenworcel "a superb candidate" who is "equally
respected" by the telecommunications industry, public safety
community and public interest groups.
"We write to urge you to give serious consideration to
nominating Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel ... to be the
agency's first chairwoman," starts the letter, which was dated
The letter was sent to Obama by Senator Jay Rockefeller of
West Virginia, chairman of the Senate Committee on Commerce,
Science and Transportation, which oversees the FCC.
Others who signed the letter included Max Baucus of Montana,
Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut, Carl Levin of Michigan, Mark
Pryor of Arkansas and Dianne Feinstein of California.
Rosenworcel, 41, was a member of the commerce committee's
staff in the past, serving as senior communications counsel, and
is now the junior Democratic commissioner at the FCC. She was
sworn in at the agency in May 2012.
Mignon Clyburn is the senior Democrat on the five-member
panel. She would be the likely interim chair if Obama decided to
nominate an outsider to replace Genachowski.
An outside nominee would require Senate confirmation, while
elevating a current FCC commissioner would not.
"By choosing a sitting Commissioner that has established
bipartisan Senate support, you can quickly install a proven
leader at this important agency," the senators' letter Said.
"That fact is particularly critical with the FCC in the
middle of several significant rulemakings and other initiatives.
By nominating Commissioner Rosenworcel you could avoid possible
delays created by other nominees."
Obama has been under pressure to nominate more women to lead
U.S. agencies as he reshuffles appointments for his second term
as president. In recent weeks he has tapped female leaders for
the Federal Trade Commission and the Secret Service, which
analysts say may ease the pressure related to the FCC.
In recent weeks, Tom Wheeler - a venture capitalist and an
Obama ally and fundraiser - has emerged as the frontrunner for
FCC chairmanship. Wheeler is a known figure in Washington's tech
circles who in the past has worked for the National Cable
Television Association and the wireless industry group CTIA.
An outside successor to Genachowski also could be nominated
in a pair with a Republican to replace Commissioner Robert
McDowell, who will also step down in coming weeks. A paired
Senate confirmation is considered easier to accomplish.
(Reporting by Alina Selyukh; editing by Ros Krasny and David