The Chamber of Commerce is opposing Gigi Sohn for the FCC

The powerful business lobby objects to the longtime net neutrality advocate's "extreme views," even as a Senate panel hopes to move her nomination to the floor.

The Chamber of Commerce building facade in Washington, DC on Friday, Oct. 20, 2017.

The Chamber of Commerce in Washington, DC on Friday, Oct. 20, 2017.

Photo: Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce is opposing Senate confirmation for longtime net neutrality advocate Gigi Sohn, President Biden's choice to fill the last open slot on the Federal Communications Commission.


The business group, which is among the U.S.'s most powerful lobbying associations, cited Sohn's "longtime advocacy of overly aggressive and combative regulation of the communications sector" in a letter to the leaders of the Senate Commerce Committee.

Sohn has already faced an uphill battle for confirmation, although the Democrats who lead the commerce panel are hoping to move her nomination to the floor on Thursday.

Many Republican senators have opposed her over her role as a key staffer on the FCC's 2015 net neutrality rules. The agency's order banned internet service providers from blocking web content, slowing it down or demanding pay for prioritizing it. The absence of Democratic Sen. Ben Ray Luján, who has been recovering from a stroke, also slowed down action on Sohn's nomination. And several trade associations, especially for ISPs, have expressed worries about Sohn.

At the same time, progressives have cheered her work on behalf of consumer broadband access, and some small conservative TV channels who often fight with big broadcasters have backed her.

The Chamber, which counts AT&T on its board, said Sohn's work has placed her among the "leading advocates for policies that amount to regulatory overreach in the broadband market." That includes the net neutrality order, which the Chamber said "led to the decline in private sector broadband investment for the first time outside a national economic slowdown." (Research has come to varying conclusions on that point.)

The group also objected to Sohn's praise of municipal-owned broadband networks and Biden's order attempting to counter consolidation in tech and telecom.

"Ms. Sohn’s track record and her views on competition would create unnecessary obstacles to crafting effective, durable policies to ensure all Americans are connected," the Chamber said.

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