FCC Chairman Ajit Pai to leave agency next year

His departure — widely expected, and timed to coincide with President-elect Biden’s inauguration on Jan. 20 — is set to unleash a wave of uncertainty at the FCC as the new administration takes shape. Biden can tap an acting chairperson from the agency’s two Democratic members once he takes the White House as he decides on a more permanent leader, which may require Senate confirmation. But it seems increasingly likely he’ll inherit an FCC deadlocked at two Democrats and two Republicans, perhaps delaying the incoming, Biden-era commission from acting on its agenda.

In a statement announcing his departure, Pai touted recent efforts that he said had paved the way for the next generation of wireless connectivity, known as 5G, and alluded to a series of “tough choices” under his watch.

“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,” he said in a statement, reflecting on the fact he had been the first Asian American to chair the agency. “As I often say: only in America.”

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