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Hearings for Obama's FCC Pick Expected This Month

A senate confirmation hearing for President Obama's pick to head the Federal Communications Commission is expected to occur by the middle of this month as it appeared Republican leaders in the Senate have agreed on their picks for two spots in the five-commission agency, according to sources close to the process.

Merideth Attwell Baker the former acting head of the National Telecommunications and Information Administration and daughter-in-law of former Secretary of State James Baker, is expected to be nominated to a vacant Republican seat at the FCC. Current Republican FCC Commissioner Robert McDowell is also expected to be nominated for another term at the agency.

In March, Obama picked Julius Genachowski, the president's head tech advisor and law school classmate, to chair the federal government's agency that oversees fleeting expletives and wardrobe malfunctions on television, wireless competition, media ownership rules and broadband Internet policies. Genachowski's Senate confirmation hearing was delayed until after Memorial Day weekend as Republican lawmakers were deadlocked over candidates to fill an open Rebublican seat at the FCC. They wanted to time Genachowski's hearing with that of a Republican pick, according to sources close to the process.

Obama has also nominated South Carolina public utilitites commissioner Mignon Clyburn to take over a Democratic spot at the FCC that will be vacated by Jonathan Adelstein. Adelstein was appointed to lead a $2.5 billion broadband Internet grants program at the Agriculture Department.

Some sources say telephone giant AT&T had pushed Republican lawmakers in the Senate to pick a replacement for Commissioner McDowell who had recused himself from a vote for the merger of AT&T and Bell South in 2006. McDowell is a former telecom lobbyist for trade group Comptel and removed himself from the merger vote citing a conflict of interest.

By Cecilia Kang  |  June 1, 2009; 3:31 PM ET  | Category:  Cecilia Kang
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