Ajit Pai is the senior Republican on the Federal Communications Commission. He was nominated to the FCC by President Barack Obama and was confirmed unanimously by the United States Senate on May 7, 2012.

Regulatory Philosophy

Commissioner Pai’s regulatory philosophy is informed by a few simple principles. Rules that reflect these principles will result in more innovation, more investment, better products and services, lower prices, more job creation, and faster economic growth.

  • Consumers benefit most from competition, not preemptive regulation. Free markets have delivered more value to American consumers than highly regulated ones.
  • No regulatory system should indulge arbitrage; regulators should be skeptical of pleas to regulate rivals, dispense favors, or otherwise afford special treatment.
  • Particularly given how rapidly the communications sector is changing, the FCC should do everything it can to ensure that its rules reflect the realities of the current marketplace and basic principles of economics.
  • As a creature of Congress, the FCC must respect the law as set forth by the legislature.
  • The FCC is at its best when it proceeds on the basis of consensus; good communications policy knows no partisan affiliation.

Selected Issues

Broadband

Broadband is critical in modern American life. Especially when it comes to innovation, the Internet has leveled the playing field. It’s created a phenomenon that Commissioner Pai calls the “democratization of entrepreneurship.” With a good idea and a broadband connection, entrepreneurs anywhere can compete in ways unthinkable a generation ago.

Yet too many Americans still don’t have broadband.  They are left on the other side of the “digital divide.” Commissioner Pai has seen this for himself, from Barrow, Alaska to Fayetteville, West Virginia.

That’s why he has proposed a comprehensive plan to promote broadband deployment to all Americans. The federal government must make it easier to for broadband providers to retire increasingly obsolete copper lines in favor of next-generation technologies like fiber. It must enable rural residents to have the same choice for stand-alone broadband typically found in cities.  It must create a roadmap for state and local governments so that companies that want to compete in the broadband market don’t have to jump through unnecessary regulatory hoops in order to lay fiber to consumers.  It must promote common-sense policies like “Dig Once” and reform pole attachment rules to reduce the costs of building digital networks. It must streamline the process for deploying wireless infrastructure, from big towers to small cells.  It must free up more licensed spectrum for use by wireless carriers and more unlicensed spectrum for things like Wi-Fi.  And it must preserve Internet freedom here and abroad, so that the online world can flourish free from heavy-handed government intervention.

First Amendment

Commissioner Pai has been an outspoken defender of First Amendment freedoms. When the FCC proposed to send researchers into newsrooms to question why reporters cover some stories and not others, Commissioner Pai sounded the alarm. Soon after, the FCC canceled the study. Commissioner Pai has also spoken out about threats to free speech here and abroad and has warned against government efforts to regulate the marketplace of ideas.

Public Safety

Public safety is a top priority for Commissioner Pai. He took action to ensure that consumers can reach emergency services whenever they dial 911. He has also called on the FCC to help law enforcement combat the rising threat posed by contraband cellphones in our jails and prisons. And he’s pushed for the advancement of Next Generation 911, an Internet-based system which will help keep Americans safe.

Fiscal Responsibility

Commissioner Pai has fought to eliminate waste, fraud, and abuse in federal programs. He was the first commissioner to demand an end to corporate welfare in a recent major spectrum auction; the agency ultimately agreed, saving taxpayers over $3 billion. He has been outspoken against the waste, fraud, and abuse in the Lifeline program, leading an investigation into the issue. And he wants to make sure that every federal program under the FCC’s purview gets the most bang for the buck.

Taking the Initiative and Getting Results

In addition to the accomplishments mentioned above, Commissioner Pai was the first member of the FCC in over two decades to call for revitalizing the AM radio band; the basic reforms he proposed were adopted in 2015. He also urged the FCC to create a task force to study the “Internet Protocol Transition” and report on obsolete rules that could be repealed; that task force was created. He proposed a way for the FCC to address petitions filed by the public much more quickly; that “rocket docket” is now in place and has dramatically sped up the agency’s decision-making. With respect to outside review and oversight, in at least half a dozen high-profile cases in which he dissented, federal courts of appeals have upheld his position. And in other such cases, one or both Houses of Congress has passed legislation consistent with his position.

 

Biographical Information

Jenner & Block, LLP. Partner, 2011 – 2012 

Federal Communications Commission. Deputy General Counsel, Associate General Counsel, and Special Advisor to the General Counsel, 2007 – 2011

U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee. Chief Counsel, Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights, and Property Rights, 2005 – 2007 

U.S. Department of Justice. Senior Counsel, Office of Legal Policy, 2004 – 2005

U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee. Deputy Chief Counsel, Subcommittee on Administrative Oversight and the Courts, 2003 – 2004 

Verizon Communications Inc. Associate General Counsel, 2001 – 2003

U.S. Department of Justice. Trial Attorney (Attorney General’s Honors Program), Antitrust Division, Telecommunications Task Force, 1998 – 2001

Hon. Martin L.C. Feldman, U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana. Law Clerk, 1997 – 1998

Commissioner Pai graduated with honors from Harvard University in 1994 and from the University of Chicago Law School in 1997, where he was an editor of the University of Chicago Law Review and won the Thomas R. Mulroy Prize. In 2010, Pai was one of 55 individuals nationwide chosen for the 2011 Marshall Memorial Fellowship, a leadership development initiative of the German Marshall Fund of the United States.

The son of immigrants from India, Commissioner Pai grew up in Parsons, Kansas. He now lives in Arlington, Virginia, with his wife, Janine; son, Alexander; and daughter, Annabelle.

Picture of Matthew Berry, Chief of Staff, Commissioner Pai

Matthew Berry

Chief of Staff

Matthew Berry previously served as the Commission's General Counsel and Deputy General Counsel. In those roles, he was responsible for providing legal advice to the Commission and managing the Commission's litigation docket. Prior to joining Commissioner Pai's office, he was a Partner at Patton Boggs LLP, where he was a member of the firm's Technology and Communications practice group. Mr. Berry has also worked at the United States Department of Justice, serving as Counselor to the Assistant Attorney General for the Office of Legal Policy and an attorney-adviser in the Office of Legal Counsel. During his tenure there, he earned the Department's John Marshall Award for providing legal advice related to counter-terrorism policy.

Mr. Berry has also served as a law clerk for United States Supreme Court Associate Justice Clarence Thomas and Judge Laurence Silberman of the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. Additionally, he was a visiting professor at William and Mary School of Law, where he taught courses on the First Amendment and election law, and worked as a staff attorney at the Institute for Justice. Mr. Berry graduated summa cum laude from Dartmouth College and received his J.D. from Yale Law School.

Picture of Nicholas Degani, Legal Advisor, Commissioner Pai

Nicholas Degani

Legal Advisor, Wireline

Nicholas Degani comes to Commissioner Pai’s office from a detail to the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Energy and Commerce, where he served as counsel under Chairman Fred Upton and Communications and Technology Subcommittee Chairman Greg Walden. His portfolio included communications issues and agencies, with a focus on the Universal Service Fund, intercarrier compensation, privacy, cybersecurity, agency jurisdiction and spending, and the administrative process.

Before his detail, Mr. Degani served as an Attorney Advisor in the Wireline Competition Bureau’s Telecommunications Access Policy Division, where he worked on issues related to the Universal Service Fund’s low-income and schools and libraries programs, as well as contributions and eligible-telecommunications-carrier issues. Mr. Degani has also worked in the Commission’s Office of General Counsel and the Wireline Competition Bureau’s Competition Policy Division, where he worked on pole attachment issues, transaction review, broadband policy, and numbering issues related to Internet-based Telecommunications Relay Services. Mr. Degani entered the Commission through the Attorney Honors Program in 2007.

Earlier in his career, Mr. Degani served as a law clerk for Judge Jeffrey Sutton of the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit. He graduated cum laude from Harvard Law School and magna cum laude from Yale University, where he studied Electrical Engineering/Computer Science and History.

Picture of Brendan Carr, Legal Advisor, Commissioner Pai

Brendan Carr

Legal Advisor, Wireless, Public Safety, and International

Brendan Carr joins Commissioner Pai’s office from the FCC’s Office of General Counsel. In that role, Brendan provided legal advice on a wide range of spectrum policy, competition, and public safety matters. Prior to joining the Commission, Brendan was an associate at Wiley Rein LLP, where he worked on telecom litigation, appellate, and regulatory matters. Earlier in his career, Brendan served as a law clerk for Judge Dennis W. Shedd of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit. Brendan graduated magna cum laude from the Catholic University of America, Columbus School of Law and obtained a certificate from its Institute for Communications Law Studies. During law school, Brendan gained experience interning for Commissioner Kathleen Abernathy, the FCC’s Enforcement Bureau, and the U.S. House of Representatives, Committee on Energy and Commerce, Subcommittee on Communications, Technology, and the Internet. Brendan received his undergraduate degree from Georgetown University.

Picture of Lori Alexiou, Confidential Assistant, Commissioner Pai

Lori Alexiou

Confidential Assistant

Ms. Alexiou has served most recently as a Litigation Specialist for the Office of General Counsel. Before that, she served as Confidential Assistant to Commissioner Meredith A. Baker and Chairman Kevin J. Martin. Prior to joining the Commission, Ms. Alexiou worked at the law firms of Wiley Rein LLP and Fisher, Wayland, Cooper and Leader. She started her career working for a physician's practice in Pennsylvania.

Picture of Deanne Erwin, Staff Assistant, Commissioner Pai

Deanne Erwin

Staff Assistant

Ms. Erwin is the staff assistant for Commissioner Pai's office. She handles meeting requests for Nicholas Degani and Brendan Carr, as well as travel arrangements and greeting visitors to the office. Previously, Ms. Erwin was the assistant for William Lake, Chief of the Media Bureau. Ms. Erwin began her career at the Commission in 2000.

October 21, 2014

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