The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has five seats. Two of them are currently vacant, leaving only three members, and I recall that there were also two vacant seats under the Obama administration (chaired by Tom Wheeler). Additionally, Chairman Ajit Pai's term expired nearly a year ago in June 2016, but FCC rules allow staying on until the next session of Congress should no replacement be found.

Why is there such reluctance to appoint new members to the FCC, both in the Trump and Obama administrations? Three new members could be appointed, and there could still be a partisan majority if that is important to the current administration. Plus, terms are for five years, so filling the seats now would be a good political move.

Why the reluctance to appoint additional members to fill the vacancies?

  • I've voted to close this questions as being primarily opinion based. May 18, 2017 at 20:48
  • 1
    @DrunkCynic I figured it would be okay since we have other apparently opinion-based questions like Why is Donald Trump so popular?. Is there some way I could revise this to be on topic with the site? May 18, 2017 at 23:29
  • As far as I'm aware, there was a full complement on the FCC until shortly before Trump took office. One Democrat's term expired, and Wheeler stepped down.
    – Bobson
    May 18, 2017 at 23:41

1 Answer 1


I don't think the vacancies are deliberate. Trump has been unusually slow in nominating people in general

The Senate has confirmed 26 of Trump’s picks for his Cabinet and other top posts. But for 530 other vacant senior-level jobs requiring Senate confirmation, the president has advanced just 37 nominees, according to data tracked by The Washington Post and the nonpartisan Partnership for Public Service’s Center for Presidential Transition. These posts include the deputy secretaries and undersecretaries, chief financial officers, ambassadors, general counsels, and heads of smaller agencies who run the government day-to-day.

That’s less than half the nominees President Barack Obama had sent to the Senate by this point in his first term.

But the nomination process has also been slowed by the unusual degree of scrutiny the White House is giving job candidates. Prospective nominees for senior posts and even some of the more junior ones must win approval from competing camps inside the White House, according to close Trump associates and Republican lobbyists.

As to why there's two vacancies, Democrats were unable to get their nominee confirmed before Obama left office and Trump withdrew her from consideration

Rosenworcel, a Democrat, left the FCC at the end of last year after her tenure expired. President Barack Obama renominated her just weeks before he left office. The apparent expectation was that once Trump took office, he would pair her nomination with a Republican choice and they would jointly go through the confirmation process.

But Trump’s decision to pull her nomination has led to speculation that he would put forward another Republican and perhaps an independent or other Democrat more favorable to administration policy. In the past, the White House has deferred to Senate leadership in the selection of nominees from the opposing party. Democrats have already been vowing to push back if the administration tries to buck that tradition.

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