U.S. President Donald Trump has named his pick to fill the final open Republican position at the Federal Communications Commission: It’s Brendan Carr, a former telecom lawyer who currently serves as the agency’s general counsel.
Carr’s nomination — confirmed to Recode on Wednesday by two sources, then the White House — gives the FCC’s current chairman, Ajit Pai, a reliable political ally as he continues his push to deregulate the telecom industry, including recent efforts to scrap the government’s existing net neutrality rules.
Carr joined the FCC as an attorney adviser in 2012, and he became a top legal adviser to then-commissioner Pai in 2014. Once Democrats lost the White House — and thus no longer controlled the FCC — Pai became chairman and, in January, he named Carr as acting general counsel of the agency.
Before arriving in government, Carr represented some of the companies he may soon regulate. For years, he served as a lawyer at Wiley Rein, one of the top telecom-focused law firms in Washington, D.C., and he aided AT&T, Verizon and their main trade associations, USTelecom and the wireless-focused lobbying group, CTIA.
Carr must still survive a grilling by lawmakers, followed by a vote in the Senate. But his already-high prospects for confirmation are aided by the fact that there is also an open Democratic slot at the FCC. Typically, lawmakers pair nominees from both parties together, and vote on them as a pack.
Earlier this month, Trump nominated Jessica Rosenworcel, who had served as a Democratic commissioner at the FCC until the end of 2016. The move drew the support of the party’s lawmakers, who merely ran out of time to vote on her renomination before her term expired.
If confirmed, Carr and Rosenworcel would restore the FCC to its full strength of five members: Pai, the chairman, plus Michael O’Rielly, a Republican commissioner, and Mignon Clyburn, a Democrat whose term is soon expiring.