Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin said Tuesday he will vote against confirming Gigi Sohn as a commissioner of the Federal Communications Commission, potentially imperiling her nomination by President Biden.

Democrats since January 2021 have been unable to command a majority of the five-member telecom regulator, stalling the party’s efforts to reinstate landmark net neutrality rules revoked under Republican President Donald Trump. The open internet laws seek to bar internet service providers from blocking or slowing traffic or offering paid fast lanes.

Manchin said in a statement that the FCC needed a leader who would “remain above the toxic partisanship that Americans are sick and tired of, and Ms. Sohn has clearly shown she is not the person to do that.”

Sohn and the White House did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Democrats hold a narrow 51-49 majority in the Senate.

Gigi Sohn was nominated to the Federal Communications Commission two years ago.
Ron Sachs/CNP /

Sohn who was first nominated in October 2021, had her third hearing before the Senate Commerce Committee in February, telling lawmakers that industry opponents “fear a pragmatic, pro-competition, pro-consumer policymaker who will support policies that will bring more, faster, and lower-priced broadband.”

Republicans in February offered a sweeping denunciation of Sohn, a former senior aide to then FCC Chair Tom Wheeler, on a number of grounds and accused her of misleading Congress, which she rejected.

Many Democrats said Republicans were doing the bidding of powerful telecom companies who did not want to face regulation from the FCC, which remains divided 2-2 between Democrats and Republicans.

 Sen. Joe Manchin
Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia of Sohn’s nomination.
Getty Images

In July 2021, Biden signed an executive order encouraging the FCC to reinstate the open internet net neutrality rules.

At least two Democrats were undecided including Senator Jacky Rosen, who cited serious concerns raised by some law enforcement groups that she said gave “her pause” about Sohn’s nomination.