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President Bush nominated Democrat Jonathan Adelstein Tuesday for a new five-year term on the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). The U.S. Senate Commerce Committee plans a Thursday confirmation hearing on the nomination.
Adelstein, a former legislative assistant to Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle (D-S.D.) is one of two Democrats on the five-member FCC. He originally joined the FCC in December 2002 when Daschle nominated him to fill the final six months of Democrat Gloria Tristani's term.
When Tristani's term expired, Daschle asked Bush to nominate Adelstein for a full term, but political infighting between Democrats and Republicans over judicial and executive branch nominees throughout the 108th Congress kept Adelstein's nomination on hold.
By law, Adelstein, a South Dakota native, was allowed to serve on the FCC until the end of the 108th Congress and the special lame duck session currently under way provided one last chance for him to retain his seat.
The 42-year-old Adelstein has often teamed with fellow Democrat Michael Copps to oppose Chairman Michael Powell's deregulatory efforts at the FCC, particularly in the area of local telephone competition.
In February 2003, Adelstein, Copps and Republican Kevin Martin formed a majority to oppose Powell's plan to free the incumbent Bells from their local competition legal obligations under the 1996 Telecommunications Act.
A sharply divided FCC ruled the Bells did not have to share their high-speed fiber lines with broadband competitors, but also decided the Bells would have to continue to share their local voice copper lines. The line-sharing portion of the decision was later overturned in court.
Adelstein also supports reform of the Universal Service Fund, which provides funding for telephone service buildout in rural and underserved areas.
The National Telecommunications Cooperative Association (NTCA) was quick to praise the Adelstein nomination.
"NTCA and its members are thrilled that finally the bottleneck has been broken and we will have some security knowing that someone who truly understands the needs of rural Americans serves in this distinguished seat," Michael E. Brunner, CEO of the National Telecommunications Cooperative Association, said in a statement. "It was touch and go for awhile there, but we never lightened up on our pressure to the White House nor Senate leaders to renominate Commissioner Adelstein."
Prior to working with Daschle for seven years as a senior legislative aide on telecommunications, financial services and transportation issues, Adelstein served as a staff member to the Senate Special Committee on Aging.
Prior to his service in the Senate, Adelstein held a number of academic positions, including stints at Harvard and Stanford.