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FCC Chair Ajit Pai Confirmed to New Term

FCC chair Ajit Pai Monday (Oct. 2) got Senate confirmation to a new, five-year, term on the commission, retroactive to the June 2016 expiration of his previous term.

Related: FCC's Pai Gets Industry Welcome For Return Engagement

The vote was a relatively close and politically divided one at 52 to 41, and came after numerous Democrats took to the floor -- they were the majority of speakers on the nomination -- to criticize Pai and his policies and say they would be voting against the nomination. 

For Dems, it appeared to be a referendum on net neutrality and the Sinclair-Tribune merger proposal and Republican deregulatory policies in general.

The debate was somewhat curtailed by events, with Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), for example, a big critic of Pai, using his time to speak about other things, including the horrific Las Vegas shooting, and instead entering his input on Pai in the record.

Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.) stood up for the Republican chairman, citing transparency efforts and saying he was pleased that Pai had hit the re-set button on net neutrality rules (while putting in a plug for legislation solutions to the FCC's net neutrality regulatory authority). Thune said he could think of no one better to lead he FCC.

But several Democratic senators laid into the chairman, including Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.), Sen. Tom Udall (D-N.M.) and Sen Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii), with Udall arguably spending the most floor time hammering the nomination.

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