Trump taps Commissioner Ajit Pai to head FCC

"I look forward to working with the new administration, my colleagues at the commission, members of Congress, and the American public to bring the benefits of the digital age to all Americans", Pai said.

Pai earlier worked for the Department of Justice, the Senate Judiciary Committee and the FCC. He later served as an FCC attorney and, after a term at the DC law firm Jenner & Block, was nominated to the FCC by President Obama.

Pai, who is 44, met Trump earlier this week, though Trump's transition team has given no details of the conversation.

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Pai's tenure at the commission is set to expire this year, so he'll need to be reconfirmed by the Senate if Republicans want him to stick around past 2017.

Pai will lead (for the moment) a three-member FCC, composed of himself and fellow GOP commissioner Michael O'Rielly and Democrat Mignon Clyburn. But in a December 7 speech to the Free State Foundation, a free-market think tank, Pai said he was "more confident than ever" that the "days are numbered" for the net neutrality regulations. Chairman Pai has a record of promising to undo the agency's landmark 2015 net neutrality rules as well as targeting consumer privacy while refusing to stand against consolidation among telecommunications and media giants. He also opposed lower rate caps for inmate calling, rules created to give TV consumers cheaper alternatives to rented set-top boxes, rules that protect the privacy of ISP customers, an update to the 31-year-old Lifeline phone subsidy program to help poor people buy Internet service, a speed increase in the FCC's broadband standard, an investigation of AT&T and Verizon charging competitors for data cap exemptions, and preemption of state laws that restrict expansion of municipal broadband. He has also voiced support for rules that would reduce the outrageous rates inmates must pay to place calls in many states, though he voted against a proposal that would do this, citing legal concerns (the rules are now caught up in court). His history could make him sympathetic to the objections of telecoms to net neutrality rules. Trump has hedged on another issue that would go before the FCC under Pai, a proposed merger between AT&T and Time Warner, initially saying it was "a deal we will not approve" but then claiming he hadn't "seen all the facts".

Politico reports that Pai was in NY last Monday with Trump and was believed to be the easy selection to chair the FCC under the new administration.

  • Desiree Holland