The reference to the Disclosure Act is the key to Cruz’s previous objection. The Tea Party favorite had said he wanted Wheeler to assure him the FCC would not use its existing authority to force full disclosure in political ads on broadcast TV which are placed by committees. Cruz is against having the names of contributors to those committees made public.
The Disclosure Act, which twice has been proposed by Democrats and twice defeated by Congress, would have mandated complete transparency. Republicans have led the vote against the act.
Cruz was under mounting pressure to let Wheeler’s nomination move forward. On Monday, say two sources, U.S. Senate majority leader Harry Reid (D-Nevada) committed to pushing forward the vote whatever Cruz says. On Monday night, Reid filed papers in the Senate to set up a cloture vote – which would take 60 votes to overrule Cruz if he continued to block the appointment.
The source says Reid told Cruz he is welcome to vote against Wheeler if he wishes, but he will not be allowed to hold up the entire process (which includes confirming the Republican nominee for the FCC Michael O'Rielly as well).
If there had been a cloture vote, Cruz would have faced a backlash from some in his own party. Sources say Cruz has become unpopular with some Republican Senators over this stand and his earlier efforts in the government shutdown. It only would have taken five or six Republican votes, along with the Democrats, to pass a cloture vote.
Wheeler is a Democrat and was hand-picked by President Obama for this post. Wheeler, who has run two large industry associations in the past, helped raise funds for the President’s election and served on a White House transition team after the election.
The FCC has been hamstrung by having only three of five members, and by not having a permanent chairman to help guide it in deliberations about a number of major issues facing the broadcast and communications industries.