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The Senate on Tuesday confirmed controversial Trump ally Nathan Simington to the Federal Communications Commission along party lines, gridlocking the agency for the foreseeable future.
Simington's nomination will leave the FCC with two Republican and two Democratic commissioners, making it impossible to move through any significant partisan action on issues like internet access or net neutrality until President-elect Joe Biden appoints a new commissioner — which could take months or even years, if Senate Republicans decide to block Biden's nominee.
The politicking comes even as another wave of lockdowns sweeps across the U.S., highlighting the dire needs of the millions of Americans who do not have access to the internet.
Democrats have aggressively opposed Simington's nomination, calling him "dangerously unqualified." Simington helped write the Department of Commerce petition that led the FCC to reconsider the future of Section 230.
The White House nominated Simington instead of Michael O'Rielly, the current Republican FCC commissioner whose nomination was pulled over his opposition to Trump's social media executive order.
Emily Birnbaum ( @birnbaum_e) is a tech policy reporter with Protocol. Her coverage focuses on the U.S. government's attempts to regulate one of the most powerful industries in the world, with a focus on antitrust, privacy and politics. Previously, she worked as a tech policy reporter with The Hill after spending several months as a breaking news reporter. She is a Bethesda, Maryland native and proud Kenyon College alumna.