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The US Senate voted this week to re-confirm Ajit Pai as the chairman of the Federal Communications Commission. His original term was scheduled to finish at the end of this year until President Donald Trump requested a new term. The passing vote gives him a new five-year term which will start retroactively on July 1, 2016.
His confirmation required a simple majority vote and as expected, it was mainly split along party lines. 48 Republicans and four Democrats voted for Pai while 41 Democrats and zero Republicans voted against him. There were also seven senators that did not participate in the vote. The four Democrats voting to elect him were Joseph Manchin (WV), Claire McCaskill (MO), Gary Peters (MI), and Jon Tester (MT). The official voting results are available on the Senate's website.
Pai has faced criticism from most consumers while on the other hand receiving praise from ISPs and lobbying groups. Senator Bill Nelson described Pai as "a vocal, overly partisan, and often hostile opponent of pro-consumer steps taken by his colleagues under the previous administration. And since becoming chairman of the FCC, he has systematically undercut much of the work done over the past eight years."
Verizon, Pai's former employer, issued a statement saying "Chairman Pai has demonstrated his commitment to the agency and fidelity to the law." In addition to striking down net neutrality legislation in favor of ISPs, Pai has also focused on expanding broadband coverage for elderly and low income Americans.
Given the party makeup of the Senate, this vote was more of a technicality since there were no serious chances to block the re-nomination. The Senate approves five FCC commissioners and the president makes the final selection of who will serve as chair. Although Pai's term is five years, he will likely vacate the seat should the presidency change parties in the 2020 election.