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Adelstein picked for FCC

Jul 15, 2002  •  Post A Comment

In the wake of a landmark deal with Senate leaders, the White House last week sent to the Senate the nomination of Jonathan Adelstein for a Democratic seat on the Federal Communications Commission, clearing the way for possible confirmation.
Senate Minority Leader Trent Lott, R-Miss., vowed to block Mr. Adelstein’s nomination in March, after Senate Democrats refused to confirm the appointment of one of Sen. Lott’s longtime friends, U.S. District Court Judge Charles Pickering, to the federal appeals court.
Mr. Adelstein is an aide to Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle, D-S.D.
Under the deal, sources said, the White House has agreed to let Senate Democrats pick nominees for the party’s seats on federal commissions and independent agencies. In exchange, Senate Democrats are supposed to start moving on dozens of pending Bush administration nominations that are stalled in the confirmation process.
The Senate Commerce Committee has scheduled a confirmation hearing for Mr. Adelstein on Tuesday.
A well-placed Republican source said the deal with the White House was “very historic” and would make it difficult for future presidents to deny lawmakers from the opposing party similar power over the appointment process. Traditionally, Republican presidents have nominated conservative Democrats to Democratic agency vacancies, while Democratic presidents have favored liberal Republicans for GOP openings.
Despite the agreement, individual senators are free to continue trying to block Senate votes on individual nominees. At deadline, a spokesman for Sen. Lott had not returned phone calls seeking to determine whether the lawmaker has dropped his campaign against Mr. Adelstein.
Also despite the deal, sources said Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., is attempting to block votes on all pending nominees in an effort to get a Democratic candidate he favors installed at the Federal Elections Commission.
Assuming that Mr. Adelstein gets the Senate’s nod, he will bring the FCC up to its full complement of five commissioners. The current FCC has one Democrat, Michael Copps, and three Republicans, Chairman Michael Powell, Kathleen Abernathy and Kevin Martin.
Having five commissioners on board is important because it prevents deadlocks on votes.