President Joe Biden’s long-stalled nominee for the Federal Communications Commission — Gigi Sohn — said on Tuesday she will withdraw her nomination to fill the fifth seat on the commission.
Sohn’s withdrawal came shortly after Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) announced he would vote no on her nomination.
The withdrawal marks a blow for Biden and many Senate Democrats who have fought since October 2021 to advance Sohn. It also cements the current 2-2 partisan tie at the FCC for several additional months.
The narrow Democratic majority in the Senate — and ongoing reservations from moderates like Manchin — presented challenges to advancing Sohn’s bid, particularly given sustained attacks from conservative, industry and police interests. If Democrats had remained united, they would have been able to confirm Sohn and seat a Democratic majority at the FCC.
The commission, meanwhile, has lacked a Democratic majority for the entirety Biden’s time in the White House. It’s not immediately clear who Biden will nominate next for the seat, but it will likely take several months for the Senate to consider a new contender.
A White House official confirmed Sohn’s decision to POLITICO, and the administration seemed to acknowledge the withdrawal publicly.
“We appreciate Gigi Sohn’s candidacy for this important role,” White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said during Tuesday’s briefing. “She would have brought tremendous intellect and experience, which is why the president nominated her in the first place.”
Sohn, a former counselor to Obama-era FCC Chair Tom Wheeler and an advocate for net neutrality, also confirmed the decision, sharing a statement first reported by The Washington Post. According to that statement, she made the decision Monday night.
“When I accepted his nomination over sixteen months ago, I could not have imagined that legions of cable and media industry lobbyists, their bought-and-paid-for surrogates, and dark money political groups with bottomless pockets would distort my over 30-year history as a consumer advocate into an absurd caricature of blatant lies,” Sohn said in the statement. “The unrelenting, dishonest and cruel attacks on my character and my career as an advocate for the public interest have taken an enormous toll on me and my family. Unfortunately, the American people are the real losers here.”
Sohn ultimately faced senators across three confirmation hearings since Biden first tapped her for the post. Her nomination, which awaited a committee vote in 2023, never received floor consideration.