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Tate, Copps Near Confirmation for FCC

Federal Communications Commission (FCC) nominees Deborah Taylor Tate and Michael Copps are likely to be confirmed by the U.S. Senate within the next two weeks, Senate Commerce Chairman Ted Stevens said Tuesday.

Tate, a Tennessee state utility regulator, is a Republican nominee for the remainder of former FCC Chairman's Michael Powell's term, while Copps, a Democrat, would be returning to the FCC for a full five-year term.

"We're going to try to move the nominations out of committee as rapidly as possible," Stevens said during the committee's nomination hearing on Tate and Copps. A committee vote on the two nominees is expected later this week.

With a likely full Senate confirmation before Christmas, Tate will join Chairman Kevin Martin to give Republicans two votes on the Panel, offsetting the two votes held by Copps and fellow Democrat Jonathan Adelstein.

The even split will be resolved when President Bush nominates a Republican for the fifth seat on the panel. Since Bush took months to nominate Tate, it is unclear when Republicans will again gain control of the FCC.

"I believe I bring the talent and energy necessary to succeed as a commissioner at the FCC," Tate told lawmakers. "And, with your support and approval, I will bring a spirit of consensus and bi-partisanship to the Commission; a willingness to build on what Chairman Martin and the Other commissioners have begun at the FCC."

> Copps, too, pledged to work with the Republicans on the FCC.

> "I don't believe that any of us at the Commission has a silver bullet solution to all the many challenges that confront us, and I find that a little humility as we wade into these discussions always helps," Copps said. "But I do believe that my colleagues and I are working collegially to reach agreements that benefit consumers, foster innovation and encourage investment in this fast-moving, paradigm-shifting environment."

If confirmed, Tate and Copps face a complex set of issues at the FCC. While Congress debates a sweeping overhaul of the nation's Telecommunications laws, the FCC must enforce and interpret current law.

The Internet issues the FCC must deal with -- until Congress says Otherwise -- include emergency calling services and wiretap availability offered by Voice over IP companies and digital TV transition.

"The telecommunications landscape is undergoing unprecedented changes. Indeed, we are all witnessing a new world -- a new digital age," Tate said. "Some liken it to the industrial revolution [or] the printing press, major innovations which shaped and changed our world forever."

Copps also said he would continue to push to bring broadband into rural and underserved areas, while championing consumer rights.

"My objective as an FCC commissioner is to help bring the best, most accessible and cost-effective communications system in the world to all of our people -- whether they live in rural areas, on tribal lands or in our inner cities, whether they have limited incomes or disabilities, whether they are schoolchildren or rural health care providers," he said.