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President Donald Trump has nominated Jessica Rosenworcel as an FCC commissioner

If the Senate agrees, she’ll soon head back to the telecom agency.

Senate Commerce Committee Holds FCC Oversight Hearing T.J. Kirkpatrick / Getty

U.S. President Donald Trump has announced his intent to nominate Jessica Rosenworcel to fill the open Democratic slot at the Federal Communications Commission.

The selection — revealed quietly, late Tuesday night — marks a return to battle for Rosenworcel at the telecom agency: She served in that same role at the FCC from 2012 to 2016, only departing the commission because Senate lawmakers could not extend her term before the clock ran out at the end of the year.

In her previous stint at the agency, Rosenworcel had been a vocal, ardent supporter of net neutrality, and she voted for rules — drafted by then-FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler — to subject internet providers to utility-like regulation. This time, however, the agency’s new leader, Republican Chairman Ajit Pai, is looking to scrap those open internet protections.

Otherwise, Rosenworcel has been a forceful, public advocate for FCC policies and programs that seek to close the “homework gap,” as she calls it — the broad disparities in broadband internet service that make it difficult for students, particularly in rural areas, to do their schoolwork.

In the weeks before Trump’s official announcement, Rosenworcel had been widely viewed as the front-runner for her party’s open slot at the FCC, sources previously told Recode. She had the public backing of many congressional Democrats, including Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer, who formally recommended her to Trump for the open FCC post.

Sources also had expected Trump to announce Rosenworcel along with a nominee for the FCC’s other open slot — a Republican seat — and it had been widely believed that Brendan Carr, the general counsel at the FCC, would win that position.

Typically, such nominees are paired up in order to improve their chances of a swift confirmation by an ever-partisan U.S. Senate. But Trump opted not to announce his Democratic and Republican nominees together on Tuesday night. That could stoke speculation that Trump actually sees Rosenworcel as a replacement for sitting Democratic Commissioner Mignon Clyburn, whose term expires at the end of June.

The White House, for its part, previously has not indicated if it would renominate Clyburn to her post — and a spokeswoman did not immediately respond to an email seeking comment Wednesday. Without Clyburn or some other Democrat, the FCC would not meet its three-member quorum, preventing it from acting on certain policy issues — including, perhaps, net neutrality.

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