Grassley threatens to hold up FCC nominees over LightSquared

Sen. Charles Grassley said he will make good on his threat to hold up the nominations of Democrat Jessica Rosenworcel and Republican Ajit Pai to the Federal Communications Commission until he gets information on the agency’s actions regarding the broadband firm LightSquared.

The Senate Commerce committee approved the FCC nominations by voice vote Thursday morning, and the measure is now headed to the full Senate for a floor vote.

Grassley, the ranking Republican member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, said that he will place the hold as a “last resort” in order to obtain information on how the agency decided to approve LightSquared’s plans for a broadband network despite evidence that the company’s network interfered with global-positioning satellites.

“This agency controls a big part of the economy,” Grassley (R-Iowa) said in a statement. “It conducts the public’s business. And the public’s business ought to be public.”

The FCC has told Grassley that his position on the Judiciary committee does not grant him jurisdiction over the FCC, and that the agency does not have to give him the relevant documents. Grassley said that LightSquared and Harbinger Capital have both agreed to provide him with documents this week that pertain to their conversations with the FCC

Also Thursday, the Commerce panel also approved the nomination of Maureen Ohlhausen to the Federal Trade Commission and the reconfirmation of FTC chairman Jon Leibowitz. Rebecca Blank was confirmed as the deputy secretary of the Commerce Department.

Hayley Tsukayama covers consumer technology for The Washington Post.

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