New Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai will get a chance to clue in lawmakers about his plans for net neutrality, wrapping up the broadcast spectrum auction and rewriting media ownership rules when he and fellow FCC members appear before a Senate panel Wednesday, March 8.
The Senate Commerce Committee will hold an oversight hearing examining the FCC's operations Wednesday.
One of the hottest topics is likely to be Pai's Feb. 28 announcement that he plans to end the net neutrality rules imposed during the Obama administration, which the former president supported.
Sen. John Thune, R-S.D., chairman of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, said the FCC members should expect questions "covering every aspect of the agency and major policy issues before the commission."
Pai, a constant critic of broadband regulations imposed by the FCC during the tenure of his predecessor in the chairman's seat, Barack Obama appointee Tom Wheeler, told the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Spain, two weeks ago that unless the U.S. steps away from what he sees as Wheeler's heavy-handed net neutrality rules and other interventions in the communications industry, telecom providers will be reluctant to spend the billions necessary to roll out infrastructure for 5G networks.
Since the FCC's net neutrality rules were imposed in 2015, Pai has called for them to be rescinded, and with a Republican majority on the commission, he's in a position to make that happen. Although two seats on the commission are open, he is joined by fellow Republican O'Rielly. Clyburn is a Democrat.