‘Honor of a lifetime to serve’: FCC chair Ajit Pai to step down

A top Republican in the Trump administration has confirmed that he’s stepping down.

Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai, who came under fire for his policy on net neutrality, announced Monday that he will resign on January 20.

FCC commissioner to resign

Pai released a statement saying it was the “honor of a lifetime” to serve at the FCC under President Trump and his predecessor.

“It has been the honor of a lifetime to serve at the Federal Communications Commission, including as Chairman of the FCC over the past four years,” Pai said.

“I am grateful to President Trump for giving me the opportunity to lead the agency in 2017, to President Obama for appointing me as a Commissioner in 2012, and to Senate Majority Leader McConnell and the Senate for twice confirming me. To be the first Asian-American to chair the FCC has been a particular privilege. As I often say: only in America.”

Pai led a controversial vote in 2017 to reverse net neutrality rules that prevented internet service providers from prioritizing certain traffic.

More recently, Pai said the FCC would move to “clarify” Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, which President Donald Trump and conservatives argue has given Big Tech platforms blanket immunity to censor speech.

Controversial chairman

That initiative is likely to be quashed by a Biden administration, with Pai’s departure making a Democratic takeover of the FCC more likely. Biden would pick his FCC chairman, but they need to be confirmed by the Senate.

Meanwhile, the Trump administration is seeking to confirm Nathan Simington to the five-person commission, which if successful would result in 2-2 split control.

Pai also oversaw efforts to expand broadband access in rural parts of the country and block illegal robocalls, among other initiatives.

The outgoing chairman congratulated the FCC for the progress made during his tenure.

“I am proud of how productive this Commission has been, from commencing five spectrum auctions and two rural broadband reverse auctions in four years, to opening 1,245 megahertz of mid-band spectrum for unlicensed use, to adopting more than 25 orders through our Modernization of Media Regulation Initiative, to aggressively protecting our communications networks from national security threats at home and abroad, to designating 988 as the three-digit number for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, and much, much more,” he said.

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