FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler has announced that he will step down in January, when President Barack Obama’s term ends. An Obama appointee, Wheeler has headed the Commission for 3 years.
“Sitting in this chair has been the greatest privilege of my professional career,” Wheeler said on December 15, during his final FCC monthly open meeting. “I’m grateful to President Obama for the opportunity to serve and for the confidence he placed in me. I am especially thankful to the talented Commission staff for their service and sacrifice during my tenure. Their achievements have contributed to a thriving communications sector, where robust investment and world-leading innovation continue to drive our economy and meaningful improvements in the lives of the American people. It has been a privilege to work with my fellow Commissioners to help protect consumers, strengthen public safety and cybersecurity, and ensure fast, fair and open networks for all Americans.”
Wheeler was a staunch proponent of the FCC’s net neutrality policy, which has been opposed by Republicans as government overreach.
When Wheeler departs on January 20, the FCC will be left with two Republicans — Ajit Pai and Michael O’Rielly — and one Democrat — Mignon Clyburn, whose term ends in mid-2017. Democratic commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel failed to gain confirmation for another term before Congress adjourned and is expected to depart by year’s end. The FCC can have up to five commissioners, which are appointed by the president, the political balance favoring the party holding the White House.