Biden FCC Nominee Withdraws after Manchin Opposition
President Biden’s pick to join the Federal Communications Commission and break its 2-2 partisan deadlock has withdrawn her name from consideration. The move comes after Senator Joe Manchin explained he would vote against her.
Gigi Sohn, who was nominated by Biden in October of 2021, has faced a bruising confirmation battle. Her nomination has remained at a standstill for months, due to vocal opposition from Republicans and some dissent from fellow Democrats.
“The unrelenting, dishonest and cruel attacks on my character and my career as an advocate for the public interest have taken an enormous toll on me and my family,” Sohn said in explaining her decision to withdraw.
First reported by the Washington Post, Sohn’s statement blamed “cable and media industry lobbyists, their bought-and-paid-for surrogates, and dark money political groups with bottomless pockets.”
The lawyer has been scrutinized in hearings for tweets critical of Donald Trump and conservative media outlets. Sohn has urged that Sinclair Broadcast Group’s license be reconsidered and has called Fox News “state-sponsored propaganda.”
Manchin explained in a statement that an FCC commissioner must be able to stay above the partisan fray.
“Especially now, the FCC must remain above the toxic partisanship that Americans are sick and tired of, and Ms. Sohn has clearly shown she is not the person to do that,” Manchin wrote. “For those reasons, I cannot support her nomination to the FCC and I urge the Biden administration to put forth a nominee who can bring us together, not drive us apart.”
Sohn’s withdrawal represents a blow to the Biden administration as it attempts to navigate a slim majority in the Senate.
Prior to being elected, Biden promised that he would reverse Trump’s deregulatory moves and return to the Obama administration’s policy of net neutrality. Sohn was a chief architect of that policy.
The commission will now remain deadlocked between two Republican-appointed commissioners and two Democratic-appointed ones for the foreseeable future, only able to pass bipartisan proposals.
In a statement, Senator Ted Cruz applauded Sohn’s defeat on the same grounds as Manchin.
“The withdrawal of Ms. Sohn’s nomination is a major victory and represents a strong bipartisan agreement that we need a fair and impartial candidate who can receive the support needed for confirmation,” wrote Cruz. “The FCC is not a place for partisan activists; free speech is too important.”
White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre defended the pick in a Tuesday press conference, pointing to Sohn’s “tremendous intellect” and her role as a consumer-safety advocate. Jean-Pierre did not announce a timeline for a new pick.