Michael P. O'Rielly Nominated to Fill GOP Seat on FCC

The appointment, rumored for weeks, should help move forward the confirmation of Tom Wheeler as FCC chairman.

President Obama has nominated Michael P. O'Rielly to be the next Republican commissioner of the Federal Communications Division, it was announced Friday.

His appointment, should it go through, should help move forward the nomination of Obama supporter Thomas Wheeler to chair the FCC because the Senate usually votes in one Republican and one Democrat at the same time.

Wheeler's nomination was approved this week by the Senate Commerce Committee but must still go before the full Senate.

The appointment of O'Rielly, the longtime congressional communications policy adviser to Senate minority whip John Cornwyn (R-Texas), had been rumored for several weeks. He was said to be the choice of the Republican leadership.

While the president makes the choice, it is tradition that the GOP leadership decides the nominee. O'Rielly will take the Republican seat being vacated by Robert McDowell.

Sen. Jay Rockefeller (R-W.Va.), who chairs the Senate Commerce Committee, said he would make an effort to hold nomination hearings for O'Rielly as soon as possible. It is unclear when that might be, with the Senate going on recess until after Labor Day.

Before working for Cornyn, O'Rielly was an adviser to Sen. Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.) and a policy analyst for the Republican Policy Committee in the Senate on such issues as banking, technology and commerce. He also worked for Sen. John Sununu (R-N.H.) and was on the staff of the House Energy and Commerce Committee. Before that, he was a telecommunications policy analyst.