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Sens. Sullivan, Manchin lift holds on FCC Commissioner Carr's nomination

U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., announced Dec. 20 that he is lifting his hold on the nomination of Republican Federal Communications Commission Commissioner Brendan Carr for an additional term.

Manchin placed the hold Dec. 13 following the FCC's announcement that it would be delaying funding disbursements from its program to bring mobile broadband to rural areas.

Manchin said in a Dec. 20 news release that he lifted the hold after receiving "a firm commitment" from FCC Chairman Ajit Pai that the agency's Mobility Fund Phase II program would move forward as soon as possible with a provision to ensure that the money from the program is aimed at areas such as West Virginia that face high deployment costs for mobile broadband.

Republican Sens. Lisa Murkowski and Dan Sullivan of Alaska were also reportedly blocking Carr's nomination over how the FCC disbursed rural health care subsidies to a telecom provider in Alaska, but a spokesperson to Sullivan confirmed to S&P Global Market Intelligence that Sullivan also lifted his hold on Carr's nomination last week after receiving "concrete commitments and timelines" from Pai about the future direction of a rural healthcare program in Alaska.

While it is unclear where Murkowski stands on the status of her reported hold on Carr's nomination, Politico reported Dec. 21 that she is expected to drop her hold soon, clearing the way for possible Senate confirmation of Carr, along with Geoffrey Starks, a Democratic nominee for the commission's open seat.

Carr's term expired earlier this year, but he is allowed to continue to serve on the commission until the end of 2019 without being reconfirmed. Starks awaits Senate confirmation, giving the Republicans a 3-1 majority at the agency.