Ajit Pai has been confirmed for another term as chairman of the Federal Communication Commission. The Senate, with a 52-41 vote, reconfirmed Pai as its official chairman.
Pai is an American attorney who joined the United States Senate in 2012 during President Obama’s administration. In January 2017, President Donald Trump designated Pai as the FCC chairman after the Democratic nominee Tom Wheeler resigned from the office.
President Trump nominated Pai for a second term. Pai’s nomination wasn’t received well by the Democratic senators. And a petition titled “Fire FCC Chairman Pai” was launched by consumer advocacy group Free Press, as well as opposition from Democrats during debate on the Senate floor last week.
“The FCC always had the American consumer’s back” during the Obama administration, said Sen. Bill Nelson (D-Fla.), ranking member of the Senate Commerce Committee. But Pai was always “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,” Nelson said, according to a transcript provided by his office.
Following his reconfirmation, Pai in an official statement said, “I am deeply grateful to the U.S. Senate for confirming my nomination to serve a second term at the FCC and to President Trump for submitting that nomination to the Senate. Since January the Commission has focused on bridging the digital divide, promoting innovation, protecting consumers and public safety, and making the FCC more open and transparent. With today’s vote, I look forward to continuing to work with my colleagues to advance these critical priorities in the time to come.”
Throughout his tenure Pai has faced opposition about his stance on net neutrality. He has declared publicly that though he supports a set of net neutrality principles – a plan widely criticized by consumer advocacy organizations – he is against the 2015 Open Internet Order. He has led deregulation efforts in the telecom industry since his takeover.
Ajit Pai was born in Buffalo, New York, to Konkani immigrants from India. Both of his parents were doctors. He earned a B.A.with honors in social studies from Harvard and a J.D. from the University of Chicago.