With the confirmation of a third Democrat to the Federal Trade Commission, the progressive chair, Lina Khan, regains the agency’s majority — and the ability to speed ahead with her priorities.
The Senate on Wednesday confirmed President Joe Biden’s pick for Federal Trade Commissioner, Alvaro Bedoya. The 51-50 vote was along party lines, with Vice President Kamala Harris breaking a tie. For months, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer has urged swift confirmation of Bedoya, who’s nomination Senate Republicans have aggressively opposed.
Republicans on the Senate Commerce Committee have so far blocked the nominations of Georgetown University law professor Alvaro Bedoya to the FTC and consumer advocate Gigi Sohn to the FCC, largely on grounds that they are too partisan. That left both commissions deadlocked with a 2-2 split between Democrats and Republicans, denying agency leaders the majorities they needed to advance the Biden administration’s priorities. In response, Senate Democratic leaders are preparing to use a parliamentary maneuver known as a discharge petition to allow a floor vote on both nominees, according to people familiar with the matter.
With the asterisked caveat that the items are “subject to change,” a vote on the nomination of Gigi Sohn to the open Democratic seat on the FCC has been set. The Senate Commerce Committee has scheduled an executive session for Wednesday, Feb. 2, and Sohn is among 14 nominations slotted to get a vote. Among the other nominees are Alvaro Bedoya for the open Democratic seat on the Federal Trade Commission and four members of the board of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting: Kathy Im, Thomas Rothman, Elizabeth Sembler and Laura Ross.
FCC pick Gigi Sohn and FTC hopeful Alvaro Bedoya are facing blowback for past slams at targets like Fox News, ICE and former President Donald Trump — posing yet another obstacle to Democrats’ policy agenda.
President Joe Biden will nominate privacy advocate Alvaro Bedoya for a seat on the Federal Trade Commission, an agency facing accusations of lax scrutiny of major tech platforms’ anticompetitive behavior and data practices, according to people familiar with the White House’s plan.
While the Biden administration has been slow to appoint the key decisionmakers at agencies overseeing technology issues, a handful of people are on the inside track to lead them. By and large, these likely appointees do not have direct ties to Big Tech companies and have advocated for tougher measures against the industry. Many also previously served in the Obama administration and fall in the progressive camp.