Rockefeller echoes call for FCC nominee vote


Charles GrassleyThe FCC has released more documents on the LightSquared affair – some 13,000 according to a Hillicon Valley report – and Senate Commerce Committee Chair Jay Rockefeller (D-WV) said that should eliminate the need for Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) to continue his hold on the FCC nominations of Jessica Rosenworcel and Ajit Pai. Grassley remains unconvinced.

Grassley thinks LightSquared may have received favoritism from the Commission, and further believes the FCC wasted taxpayer money allowing the company’s doomed attempt to create a 4G network get as far as it did.

The FCC has refused to cooperate with Grassley, citing rules under which it is only supposed to provide information to legislators who sit on appropriate committees, which Grassley does not.

The response from Grassley has been to sit on the nominations of Rosenworcel and Pai, who otherwise enjoy widespread support in the Senate. They are expected to sail through the confirmation process on the Senate floor, as they did through the Commerce Committee, if Grassley ever allows the process to continue.

Rockefeller said both candidates are “absolutely fabulous” and suggested that there is no longer any reason to sustain the hold.

Hillicon Valley reported last week that even members of the Republican side of the Senate are growing frustrated with Grassley, including Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) who has a special interest in Pai’s nomination. Grassley’s staff disputed that claim, however, saying he enjoys the support of his caucus.

Grassley’s staff issued a response to Rockefeller. It said, “After learning from reporters today that Sen. Rockefeller had described the FCC’s production of more documents, Sen. Grassley’s staff contacted the House Energy and Commerce Committee Republicans who requested documents. When the House committee confirmed receipt of a second batch of documents from the FCC, Sen. Grassley’s staff retrieved the documents on disc. It’s unclear whether the documents contain internal, previously unreleased materials related to the FCC’s decision-making on LightSquared. Sen. Grassley’s staff is reviewing the documents now. His staff has been told the latest batch consists of approximately 5,900 FCC documents. So far, of the first 1,174 pages reviewed, 1,171 pages are news clips that are publicly available. In the prior batch of FCC documents received from the House Energy and Commerce Committee, many of the newly ‘unredacted’ documents consisted of phone numbers and other technical details unrelated to agency decision-making. 

“Sen. Grassley has asked consistently, beginning with and since his initial request of April 27, 2011, for internal documents that would shed light into why the FCC appeared to give expedited initial approval to LightSquared’s wireless project. Sen. Grassley has not ‘moved the ball’ on the nature of the documents he’s been seeking. He simply wants access to FCC documents so he can determine whether the FCC is performing due diligence before approving major projects involving public resources and affecting consumers. By repeatedly denying Sen. Grassley’s request to view FCC documents, the FCC has prolonged this inquiry into its one-year duration and raised questions about its commitment to transparency and congressional oversight.”