Casts Vote Against Anna Gomez and Geoffrey Starks, Supports Brendan Carr, Fara Damelin, and Alvin Brown
WASHINGTON, D.C. – At today’s committee hearing to vote on nominations for the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), Ranking Member Ted Cruz (R-Texas) voiced opposition to Anna Gomez and Geoffrey Starks to serve as FCC commissioners, noting that Gomez had a record of praising government censorship of “misinformation” and Starks had resisted sensible efforts to root out waste in a broadband subsidy program.
Sen. Cruz also voiced his support for the nominations of Brendan Carr to serve as FCC Commissioner, Fara Damelin to serve as FCC IG, and Alvin Brown to serve on the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB).
Despite significant Republican opposition, including from Ranking Member Cruz, the committee approved the nominations of Gomez and Starks to the FCC. The committee also approved Fara Damelin to be the FCC Inspector General, Alvin Brown to be a Member of the National Transportation Safety Board, and four promotions at the U.S. Coast Guard.
Sen. Cruz delivered the following remarks:
“Today we’ll be voting on one NTSB nominee, four FCC nominees, and four Coast Guard Academy officer assignments.
“I’m pleased to support Alvin Brown’s nomination to serve as a NTSB board member. I hope Mr. Brown’s experience as the mayor of a large city and at the Department of Transportation will help NTSB fulfill its mission.
“Now, turning to the FCC nominations, I first wish to say something about process. Confirming FCC commissioners is a serious matter. I take the Senate’s advice and consent role seriously, so I met with the nominees and asked them hard questions.
“Unfortunately, multiple senators on this Committee did not have the same opportunity to question the nominees or meet with them in advance of today’s vote.
“First, there was a rush to schedule the FCC hearing right before the July 4th recess that resulted in it coinciding with the NDAA markup. That scheduling conflict prevented several Members from meeting with the nominees or questioning them at the hearing. Unfortunately, requests from Members to reschedule the hearing were not heeded.
“To make matters worse, there was a rush to schedule this markup immediately after recess, even though multiple senators were still unable to meet with the nominees, due to the recess and scheduling conflicts.
“Look, I understand Democrats have wanted an FCC majority for two years, but the Senate’s advice and consent process shouldn’t have to suffer. It’s not Republicans’ fault the Biden White House failed to prioritize the FCC, nominated an unconfirmable left-wing extremist (twice!), and then slow-walked nominating her replacement.
“As for the nominees, I am pleased to support Fara Damelin’s nomination to serve as FCC IG given her long service in the IG community. I look forward to her completing the FCC IG’s ongoing investigations into the FCC’s management of the Affordable Connectivity Program, and procedural abuses in the agency’s review of the Standard General-TEGNA transaction.
“I also fully support confirming Brendan Carr to another term as a commissioner. I hope he’ll use his time to pursue key transparency reforms, follow the law as written by Congress, and fight waste in the Universal Service Fund.
“As for Geoffrey Starks, I understand he was previously confirmed by the Senate by voice vote. But during his four and half years at the FCC, he’s developed a record that leaves much to be desired. He stayed silent when the FCC Chairwoman abused the agency’s process to kill a major multi-billion-dollar broadcast transaction.
“He claims to be tough on waste, fraud, and abuse, but has opposed key recommendations to reduce fraud in the Affordable Connectivity Program apparently because he doesn’t want to bar illegal aliens from receiving taxpayer-funded subsidies. And he provided troubling answers when I asked him about FCC plans to impose crippling new legal risk on companies through disparate impact lawsuits.
“Nor am I comfortable that Anna Gomez possesses the independence and regulatory humility necessary for confirmation. Like Mr. Starks, she has refused to disavow heavy-handed net neutrality rules despite privately confessing that Democrats had engaged in hyperbole in opposing the repeal of the Title II classification. And like Mr. Starks, she has given non-committal answers to my requests for commitments to improve transparency and accountability at the FCC. But most of all, I am troubled by her previous online posts concerning the use of government power to police so-called “disinformation.”
“At this point, it’s well known that the Biden Administration has repeatedly trampled on the First Amendment to silence opposing views. The White House press secretary publicly bragged that they were “in regular touch” and “flagging problematic posts” for social media companies—and threatening new legislation if those companies did not heed the censors. The Biden Department of Homeland Security tried to create its own Ministry of Truth before a public backlash shamed them into disbanding the effort.
“Amid such threats to the First Amendment and Ms. Gomez’s previous posts on “disinformation,” it was critical to gain clarity into Ms. Gomez’s views on free speech and the FCC’s role. Unfortunately, based on her vague answers to my questions for the record, I am not confident that Ms. Gomez would actively oppose censorship by the FCC. Without that basic prerequisite, I am unable to support her confirmation.
“The FCC is too important an agency to be led by individuals with an appetite for regulatory overreach and lukewarm commitments to procedural fairness and the First Amendment. I will be voting in accordance with those convictions.”
- Anna Gomez to be a Commissioner on the Federal Communications Commission (PN673)
- Geoffrey Starks to be a Commissioner on the Federal Communications Commission (PN674)
- Brendan Carr to be a Commissioner on the Federal Communications Commission (PN672)
- Fara Damelin to be Inspector General of the Federal Communications Commission (PN441)
- Alvin Brown to be a Member of the National Transportation Safety Board (PN114)
- Coast Guard Promotions (PN667)