President Donald Trump has officially nominated Geoffrey Starks to the Federal Communications Commission to replace outgoing FCC Commissioner Mignon Clyburn. His appointment will require approval from the US Senate.
Clyburn said in April that she would leave the commission. Nominated in 2009 by President Barack Obama, she has been a staunch advocate of net neutrality. Her term officially ended in June 2017, but she has remained on the commission while waiting for a successor to be named. Pending Senate confirmation, Starks appears to be that replacement, and his nomination is not a surprise, as he was tapped for the role earlier this year by Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer.
Starks currently serves as the Assistant Bureau Chief in the FCC’s Enforcement Bureau, which is responsible for enforcing the commission’s rules and orders, focusing on consumer protection, competition, public safety and national security.
The FCC has five commissioners (only three of which can be of the same party), each of whom serve five-year terms, and are appointed by the President and confirmed by the Senate. Starks will fill the Democratic seat vacated by Clyburn. Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel currently fills the other Democratic seat on the Commission.
Last year, Trump elevated commissioner Ajit Pai to chairman of the FCC, who notably helped the commission to end its net neutrality rules in December 2017. Those rules will expire on June 11th, provided congressional legislation fails to move forward or if states don’t take matters into their own hands.
In a statement, Pai said that Starks had a “distinguished record of public service, including in the FCC’s Enforcement Bureau,” and wished him well during the forthcoming confirmation process. That confirmation will take place in the coming months, along with Republican Commissioner Brendan Carr, who was recently confirmed by the Senate Commerce Committee and now requires a Senate floor vote to begin his new term.