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Trump nominates Brendan Carr to fill final FCC seat and provide crucial vote on net neutrality rules

Trump nominates Brendan Carr to fill final FCC seat and provide crucial vote on net neutrality rules
FCC Chairman Ajit Pai, shown testifying at a Senate hearing June 20, will get a third Republican on the commission with President Trump's intention to nominate Brendan Carr. (Michael Reynolds / European Pressphoto Agency)

President Trump on Thursday nominated Brendan Carr, a former aide to Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai, to fill the final open seat at the agency and provide a crucial vote on the future of tough net neutrality rules.

Carr, the FCC's general counsel, would fill a Republican slot on the commission and would be expected to support Pai's push to roll back the regulations for online traffic.

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The White House announced Trump's intention to nominate Carr on Wednesday night and formally sent it to the Senate on Thursday. The move came after Trump nominated Jessica Rosenworcel, a former FCC commissioner, on June 14 to fill a Democratic seat.

If the Senate confirms both nominees, as expected, the FCC would have its full complement of five commissioners and a 3-2 Republican majority.

Pai praised Carr's "distinguished record of public service" and said his expertise on wireless and public safety policy "will be a tremendous asset to the commission."

Before becoming general counsel in January, Carr spent three years as Pai's legal advisor for wireless, public safety and international issues.

Before joining the FCC, Carr worked as a telecommunications attorney at the Wiley Rein law firm, where his clients included AT&T Inc., Verizon Communications Inc. and USTelecom, a broadband industry trade group.

Because he worked on Pai's staff, Carr would be expected to back the chairman's proposal to reverse the controversial net neutrality rules pushed through by the agency's then-Democratic majority in 2015 that subjected broadband providers to the same utility-like oversight as conventional phone companies.

The designation, strongly opposed by broadband companies, gave the FCC greater authority to ensure the unfettered flow of online content.

The regulations prohibit broadband providers from slowing Internet speeds for some content such as video streams, selling faster lanes for delivering data or otherwise discriminating against any legal online material.

Pai and Republican Commissioner Michael O'Rielly voted against the utility-like oversight in 2015. Democratic Commissioner Mignon Clyburn and Rosenworcel, who served from 2012 until her term expired at the end of last year, supported the move.

If Carr and Rosenworcel are confirmed, Carr would be the tie-breaking vote on Pai's proposal. The FCC voted 2-1 along party lines in May to start the process of dismantling the rules. A final vote is not expected until the fall.

O'Rielly congratulated Carr on the nomination and said he would be "an added voice at the commission in efforts to reduce senseless regulations and install sound policymaking."

Twitter: @JimPuzzanghera

UPDATES:

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2:35 p.m.: This article was updated with Carr's formal nomination.

8 a.m.: This article was updated with comment from FCC Commissioner Michael O'Rielly.

4:35 a.m.: This article and headline were updated to make clear that Carr is expected to support the reversal of net neutrality rules and to note the White House announcement came Wednesday night.

This article originally was published at 7:45 p.m.

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