US Republican Kathleen Abernathy has announced she would leave the Federal Communications Commission later this year, which would result in a Democrat majority at the regulatory board.
Abernathy, who spent four and a half years at the FCC, was a proponent of a market-based rather than regulatory-based industry and supported minimal regulation of VoIP.
Abernathy said she plans to retire from the five-member commission on December 9.
President Bush’s administration has not yet named her successor, even though the White house has known about her upcoming departure for months. Typically, the FCC has a 3-2 majority in favor of the party currently occupying the White House.
Abernathy’s departure likely would leave two seats open at the FCC, giving Democrats a temporary 2-1 majority. That is, a Republican chairman and two Democratic commissioners.
Republican Tennessee state regulator Deborah Taylor Tate has been nominated by Bush to fill the existing vacancy at the agency, to replace Michael Powell who left earlier this year. But the FCC must first wait for the US Senate to confirm Tate’s nomination.
Generally speaking, Republicans tend to favor fewer regulations than their Democratic counterparts.