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Senate panel deadlocks again over nomination of Bedoya for FTC

Bedoya’s tweet about 2016 GOP convention riles Republicans

Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee Ranking Member Roger Wicker, here with Chairwoman Maria Cantwell at a hearing in 2021, says he was worried about Bedoya's “divisive views.”
Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee Ranking Member Roger Wicker, here with Chairwoman Maria Cantwell at a hearing in 2021, says he was worried about Bedoya's “divisive views.” (CQ Roll Call)

The Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee on Thursday deadlocked for the second time over President Joe Biden’s nomination of privacy advocate Alvaro Bedoya to serve on the Federal Trade Commission, voting 14-14 to recommend his confirmation to the full Senate. 

The nomination could reach the Senate floor despite the party-line tie vote if Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer offers a motion to discharge the committee from further consideration of the nomination and the Senate agrees. 

Biden renominated Bedoya in January after the original nomination expired at the end of last year’s session. The panel vote on the original nomination also ended in a deadlock and subsequently stalled. Under Senate rules, nominations not confirmed by the end of a legislative session must be resubmitted by the White House.

Republicans object to some of Bedoya’s Twitter activity, including a tweet describing the 2016 Republican National Convention as a “white supremacist rally.”

“I remain concerned by the frequency with which he has publicly expressed divisive views on policy matters, rather than using a more measured and unifying tone,” Sen. Roger Wicker, R-Miss., said before the vote, reiterating comments he made when the nomination was first considered in December.

During his confirmation hearing in November, Bedoya apologized for his “white supremacist rally” tweet.

“I pledge to you that, if confirmed, it is my duty to do as I did as a Senate staffer: to set aside all of those politics and serve every single person in the country, irrespective of political opinion and party,” he said during an exchange with Sen. Dan Sullivan, R-Alaska.

At Thursday’s meeting, the committee also deadlocked over Biden’s renomination of Gigi Sohn, a progressive broadband policy advocate, to join the Federal Communications Commission.

“Based on their extensive qualifications and the bipartisan outpouring of support outside of Congress, we would have hoped these nominees would receive overwhelming bipartisan support in the Senate,” Chris Lewis, president and CEO of consumer advocacy group Public Knowledge, said in a statement. “Unfortunately, the politics of our time made that unachievable. Regardless, Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) should move expeditiously to get these nominees through the process for final confirmation.”

Senate confirmation of Bedoya would allow FTC Democrats to regain a 3-2 voting majority. The founding director of the Center on Privacy and Technology at Georgetown Law, Bedoya would replace Rohit Chopra, who left the commission in October to become head of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. 

The FTC’s current 2-2 political split means FTC Chair Lina Khan needs bipartisan support to adopt any policy initiatives that require a commission vote.

Bedoya’s work has included research on surveillance and facial recognition issues, with an emphasis on how such technologies can disparately affect people of color. The nominee previously was chief counsel of the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Privacy, Technology and the Law.

A naturalized citizen born in Peru and raised in upstate New York, he graduated summa cum laude from Harvard College and holds a J.D. from Yale Law School, where he served on the Yale Law Journal.

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