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Senate confirms new FCC commissioners after seven months shorthanded

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Senate Holds Confirmation Hearing For Ajit Pai To Remain Head Of FCC Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

The FCC is back to operating at full strength, with the Senate filling in two commissioner spots today that had sat open since January. The spots went to Jessica Rosenworcel and Brendon Carr.

Rosenworcel, a Democrat, already served one term on the commission and was expected to be reconfirmed last year, before getting held up by Republicans in Congress. Carr, a Republican, was confirmed for his first term, though he isn’t new to the commission. Previously, he was the commission’s general counsel and a lead advisor to chairman Ajit Pai.

The two appointments don’t change the balance of the commission — it was and remains in Republicans’ hands — but they will help the commission get more done. Having a three-person majority lets Republicans move partisan proceedings along faster (three votes are required). But, despite the heated debate over net neutrality in recent years, the FCC largely doesn’t deal with controversial issues. There’s a ton of technical and procedural day-to-day issues that come up, and having two additional commissioners and their associated staff will help the commission get to them in a timelier fashion.

The FCC seats five commissioners total, with one acting as the chairman; no more than three can be of the same party, which is why you see the Republican Congress putting through a Democrat. Pai, similarly, was nominated by and approved under Obama.

Correction August 4th, 8:18AM ET: This article originally said that Pai had been approved for an additional term this week, but his nomination was only approved by committee and still needs to clear the full Senate.