With Congrats To Pai, House Dems Seek ‘Commitments’


By Adam R Jacobson

Frank Pallone, D-N.J.
Frank Pallone, D-N.J.

Among the many individuals across the Nation’s Capital sending congratulatory messages to new FCC Chairman Ajit Pai late Monday (1/23) are Energy and Commerce Ranking Member Frank Pallone Jr. (D-N.J.) and Communications and Technology Subcommittee Ranking Member Mike Doyle (D-Penna.).

But, while both Democrats wished Pai well in his new role, a two-page letter sent to Pai by Pallone and Doyle asks him “to make several commitments that will increase the likelihood of a successful term.”

In their letter, the ranking Democrats on the powerful House E&C Committee write, “By some measures, the FCC oversees approximately one sixth of the United States economy. Your success at managing such a critical agency is dependent on your ability to be responsive to members of Congress on both sides of the aisle; your willingness to drive towards consensus on major Commission actions; and your respect for career staff—the lifeblood of the agency.”

Pallone and Doyle also ask Pai that, as FCC Chairman, he “be fully responsive to all members of Congress and cooperate fully with all Congressional investigations.”

Additionally, the two Democrats acknowledged that Pai has “correctly said many times” that the FCC works best “when its leadership works in a bipartisan fashion towards consensus.” To that end, they hoped Pai continues to advocate for a bipartisan, inclusive Commission and chooses the bipartisan approach.

But, in the letter the House members asked Pai to make three key commitments during his tenure as FCC Chairman — just minutes after official word of his designation by President Trump was made public.

Pallone and Doyle want Pai to do the following:

  • Ensure that the Commission will brief relevant Committee leadership—no matter their party—on all major decisions before the Commission acts and that you will be responsive to all Congressional inquiries.
  • Work with your colleagues in a bi-partisan fashion to reach consensus before moving ahead with major policy decisions
  • Refrain from taking any effort to retaliate against, undermine, demote or marginalize civil servants on the basis of their analysis or their work under previous Commission leadership.

“We believe that living up to these commitments will increase the likelihood of a successful term as Chair,” they concluded.