RealTime IT News

McDowell Lands FCC Spot

The U.S. Senate Friday confirmed telecom attorney Robert M. McDowell to fill the fifth seat on the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), restoring a 3-2 Republican majority on the panel.

McDowell replaces Republican Kathleen Abernathy, who resigned last year.

President Bush nominated McDowell in February, but Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-La.) put a block on all non-judicial nominees until last week to protest White House efforts in the Hurricane Katrina recovery.

Since Abernathy's resignation, the FCC has operated with two Republicans, Chairman Kevin J. Martin and Deborah Tate Taylor, and two Democrats, Michael Copps and Jonathan Adelstein.

"Rob's expertise and experience will be an asset to the Commission as it tackles a variety of critical communications issues in the future," U.S. Senate Commerce Committee Chairman Ted Stevens (R-Alaska) said in a statement.

"The FCC will be required to implement portions of our communications bill, and it is essential it has a full complement of commissioners."

Stevens' telecom reform bill is pending a committee vote and covers a wide range of topics from national video franchising for IPTV, network neutrality, mandatory E911 requirements for Voice over IP carriers and reform of the Universal Service Fund.

"I am anxious to have him on board and look forward to working with a full complement of commissioners to address the important issues before us," Martin said in a statement. "He has a wealth of knowledge and expertise in the communications arena."

In McDowell's March Senate confirmation hearing, he promised to clear the "cumbersome underbrush of unnecessary government regulation." He also promised to remove barriers to entry in telecom market.

"All Americans should be able to benefit from the digital revolution, and the FCC should strive to help Americans realize that goal," he said.

McDowell was most recently senior vice president and assistant general counsel for COMPTEL, a trade group of competitive local exchange carriers. Prior to that, he worked for a Washington telecommunications law firm.

In 2000, McDowell worked for the legal team representing then presidential candidate George Bush in the disputed Florida recount proceedings.

In 2003, he unsuccessfully ran for a seat in the Virginia House of Delegates. The next year, McDowell did advance work for President Bush in the 2004 campaign.