Right now, it’s too early to tell given Senate runoff races and the President’s refusal to concede – and even after he is seated, we still wouldn’t know
If you think there’s going to be sweeping changes regarding media issues with an incoming Biden administration – you might want to think again. In fact, there might not be any – and not because they don’t want to do anything.
Back in November, Democrat Joe Biden beat President Donald Trump by seven million votes and by a score of 306 to 232 in the electoral college to become the nation’s 46th President. But Trump hasn’t conceded – in fact, he claimed he won and has sued to overturn the election, which in his opinion, was ripe with fraud in key swing states Biden won such as Michigan and Wisconsin but so far, failed to produce any evidence and is now looking to the Supreme Court to give him four more years in the White House – even going as far to throw out all legal votes cast for his opponent.
But instead of casting him to the curb, most Republicans have supported Trump’s motives – and when he leaves the White House (either voluntarily or by force), his departure is going to leave behind a lot of angry Republicans, who’ll vow not to work with the new Biden administration on anything as control of the Senate depends on who wins the two Georgia run-off races on January 5. If the Republicans win control, they’ll likely block every appointment Biden makes including who gets to run governmental agencies – including the Federal Communications Commission, an agency dogged with partisan in-fighting over the years dating back to when Chairman Tom Wheeler was running the organization.
To Chicagoans, it’s the same song played before – when Harold Washington won election to become the city’s first Black mayor in 1983, his first term was dogged with strife as a predominately white opposition bloc – formed by former alderman Ed Vrdolyak (10th) – stopped Washington at every turn refusing to appoint anyone nominated by him to any office. This led to the racially-divisive “Council Wars”, a name taken from a one-act satirical play about the conflict written by comedian Aaron Freeman, and the moniker “Beirut On The Lake”. It took a lawsuit over ward remapping and special elections to give Washington control of the City Council late in his first term.
Earlier this week, the Senate appointed Nathan Simington as the newest Republican member of the FCC replacing Michael O’Reilly, whose term ended Thursday after when President Trump revoked his nomination for a second term over support over the abolishment of Section 230 from the Communications Decency Act, which protects social media companies from lawsuit infringement as conservatives claimed it discriminated against them.
With Republican Chairman Ajit Pai departing in January, this would leave the commission in a 2-2 deadlock between Republicans and Democrats each. Depending on what happens in the Georgia runoffs, the FCC could be left with four members for sometime to come – possibly hamstringing any work the agency could do, including re-imposing net neutrality rules and expanding rural broadband access.
If Democrat Jessica Rosenworcel’s term expires next year and isn’t renewed by a GOP majority Senate, it could leave the chamber in an unusual position of controlling the FCC with a 2-1 advantage, which could stay this way until the next Presidential election, possibly holding up items such as television and radio station sales and other actions needing votes for FCC approval, which takes three votes – slowing any merger and acquisition activity to a grinding halt with the potential to anger investors.
Meanwhile, a FCC item from 2017 on new ownership rules is currently at the Supreme Court, and a decision is expected next summer. If the court finds in favor of the previous FCC, don’t look for any changes.
So in all reality, there isn’t much to say here given everything is in an suspended state of animation until everything is sorted out and resolved – and even then, we might not know.
But one thing we do know – you can get ready for a Capitol Hill version of “Council Wars”.