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Senate confirms Trump ally to FCC

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.

Big Tech benefits from Biden’s sweeping immigration actions

Tim Cook and Sundar Pichai praised President Biden's immigration actions, which read like a tech industry wishlist.

Newly-inaugurated President Joe Biden signed two immigration-related executive orders on Wednesday.

Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Immediately after being sworn in as president Wednesday, Joe Biden signed two pro-immigration executive orders and delivered an immigration bill to Congress that reads like a tech industry wishlist. The move drew enthusiastic praise from tech leaders, including Apple CEO Tim Cook and Alphabet CEO Sundar Pichai.

President Biden nullified several of former-President Trump's most hawkish immigration policies. His executive orders reversed the so-called "Muslim ban" and instructed the attorney general and the secretary of Homeland Security to preserve the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, program, which the Trump administration had sought to end. He also sent an expansive immigration reform bill to Congress that would provide a pathway to citizenship for undocumented individuals and make it easier for foreign U.S. graduates with STEM degrees to stay in the United States, among other provisions.

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Emily Birnbaum

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.

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