Cantwell Delivers Opening Statement at FCC Nomination Hearing

June 22, 2023

U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.) Chair of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, delivered the following opening statement at today’s hearing to consider nominations to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) including Fara Damelin to be FCC Inspector General, and Anna Gomez, Geoffrey Starks and Brendan Carr to be FCC Commissioners. You can watch the hearing and read the nominees’ testimonies here.


Senator Cantwell Opening Statement: VIDEO

Good morning. We’re here today considering nominations to the FCC.

I welcome our nominees and their families.

It is critical that the FCC be equipped with a full Commission so that it can proceed with the important work that must be done to promote connectivity and ensure a robust and competitive marketplace.

Today, we will consider four key nominee positions:

  • Anna Gomez, nominee for FCC Commissioner;
  • Geoffrey Starks, re-nominated for FCC Commissioner;
  • Brendan Carr, re-nominated for FCC Commissioner; and
  • Fara Damelin, nominee for FCC Inspector General.

Let me begin with the nomination of Anna Gomez.

Ms. Gomez is one of the most qualified nominees for the FCC Commissioner [that has ever come] before our committee.

She has dedicated 25 years of her life to public service, focusing most of her time on telecommunications regulation and policy.

Ms. Gomez formerly served as counsel for this committee and Deputy Chief of Staff for the National Economic Council at the White House.

And various leadership roles within different bureaus of the FCC, including the International Bureau, which is now the Wireline Competition Bureau, and the Office of William Kennard.

Ms. Gomez served as Deputy Assistant Secretary for Communications and Information at NTIA during the Obama Administration.

And currently is leading the U.S. preparations for the 2023 World Radiocommunication Conference.

If confirmed, she will be the first Latina on the Commission in more than 20 years. And her nomination comes at a critical time in America.

We need more affordable and reliable broadband in making sure everyone gets to participate in a 21st Century economy.

When the pandemic hit, the nation saw overnight how remote learning and working from home for more than 16 million K-12 students in the United States literally who had no access certainly put them at a disadvantage.

In my home state, 20 percent of our students didn’t have the connection they needed from remote learning.

For households on Tribal lands [the disparity was even more severe].

On the Makah Reservation, located on the Northwest point of the Olympic Peninsula, 90 percent of the households lacked broadband access.

So the pandemic really did highlight for us the disparities that parents had, kids struggling to work and do homework from home, and these gaps made it even more important that equitable access to broadband in the United States become a reality.

So I urge my colleagues to expeditiously move forward with Ms. Gomez’s nomination so that we can have a full commission.

We will next consider the re-nomination of Geoffrey Starks, who has been a leader in the fight against internet inequality, and we consistently want to advocate for consumers and for the preservation of national security.

As a native Kansan, Mr. Starks understands the importance of broadband and access in America.

And he has championed the Find It, Fix It, Fund It initiative, which highlighted the need to support small and rural companies and eliminating security threats to our nation’s communications networks.

Next, we will consider the re-nomination of Brendan Carr.

Commissioner Carr has nearly 20 years of private and public sector experience related to communications and technology policy.

As a Commissioner since 2017, Mr. Carr has been a strong advocate of 5G.

And as this push for 5G deployment, has supported efforts to expand the telecommunications workforce through community college and apprenticeship programs that train tower climbers and construction crews.

So I very much appreciate that. The Committee on CHIPS and Science here did great work trying to expand the wireless workforce as well.

I do have some concerns about your nomination. But we’ll get to questions, and we’ll luckily get responses from everybody.

I’m going to be sending a letter to the FCC which I’ll elaborate when we get to Q&A.

Finally, we will discuss the nomination of Fara Damelin to be FCC Inspector General.

The FCC Inspector General is responsible for leading efforts to detect and prevent fraud, waste, and abuse, and violations of the law, while promoting efficient operations of the agency. Ms. Damelin in this role is expected to make sure federal dollars are being used to benefit the American public.

You have dedicated 27 years of your career to public service, including nine years within the Inspector General community. So we appreciate that very much.

We look forward to the ability to ask you questions.