He wants to take a “weed whacker” to FCC regulations.

Ajit Pai, a commissioner at the Federal Communications Commission, is expected to be appointed as the next chairman of the agency under President Trump, according to a report today from Politico.

Pai will be replacing Tom Wheeler, who announced he would step down in December. Since Pai was already approved by the Senate to serve the FCC as a commissioner under President Obama, his rise to chairman could be effective immediately.

As commissioner, Pai was an outspoken opponent of the 2015 network neutrality decision championed by Chairman Wheeler, which prevents internet providers like Comcast* and Verizon from charging websites like Netflix and Facebook a fee to reach internet users at faster speeds.

In a December speech, Pai promised to “take a weed whacker” to current FCC regulations and noted that network neutrality’s “days are numbered.” If the chairmanship does go to Pai, he will have more leverage to reverse the network neutrality rule and open a new policy-making process.

Netflix poured millions into the campaign to urge the FCC to pass network neutrality regulations, and others like Facebook, Google, Tumblr and Etsy all supported network neutrality protections, too.

Four million people commented in favor of the regulations in the FCC’s policy-making process — the highest amount of public participation in the history of the agency.

The FCC is currently led by only three commissioners: Ajit Pai and Michael O’Rielly — both Republicans — and one Democrat, Mignon Clyburn.

Typically, the FCC is comprised of three commissioners representing the party of the president in office and two commissioners representing the second major party. If Trump follows suit, he will appoint one more Republican commissioner and one more Democratic commissioner to serve the agency.

Even though Pai can start acting as chairman immediately, his FCC term technically expired last year; according to agency rules he can continue to serve until the end of 2017. The Senate will have to reconfirm Pai for him to continue at the FCC under Trump after this year.

* Comcast’s NBCUniversal is a minority investor in Vox Media, which owns this site.


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Author: April Glaser

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