WASHINGTON, May 7 (Reuters) - The U.S. Senate confirmed President Barack Obama’s picks to fill vacant seats at the Federal Communications Commission, ending a months-long wait for the nominees, who found themselves tangled in wireless startup LightSquared’s fight for survival.
The Senate on Monday unanimously approved Jessica Rosenworcel, a Democrat, and Ajit Pai, a Republican, to serve as commissioners and return the panel to its full five-member strength.
Nominated in November and despite cruising through a Senate Commerce Committee hearing with little criticism, their confirmation was stalled by a hold placed by Senator Charles Grassley.
Grassley blocked the nominees after the FCC refused to hand over a copy of all communications between the agency and stakeholders in hedge fund manager Philip Falcone’s LightSquared [MOSAV.UL.
The agency has since proposed stripping LightSquared of authority to use its satellite spectrum for a ground-based wireless network due to interference with the Global Positioning System used by airlines, the military and others. Certain documents have also been made available, prompting Grassley to lift his hold last week.
Rosenworcel, former senior communications counsel for the Senate Commerce Committee, will fill the seat left vacant when former FCC commissioner Michael Copps retired.
Pai will take the place of Meredith Attwell Baker, who left the agency to join Comcast Corp as senior vice president of government affairs for NBC Universal, only months after the FCC and Justice Department approved Comcast’s purchase of a majority stake in NBC Universal from General Electric Co .