Ajit Pai, Net Neutrality Foe, Expected to be Named FCC Chairman: Report

Ajit Pai
Daniel Acker/Bloomberg via Getty Images 

Ajit Pai photographed on May 6, 2015. 

Pai said he wanted to "take a weed whacker" to current regulations.

FCC commissioner Ajit Pai, who in December said he wanted to "take a weed whacker" to current regulations, is expected to be announced as the next chairman of the agency under President Donald Trump, Politico reports. An appointee of Barack Obama's and a member since 2012, Pai would replace outgoing FCC head Tom Wheeler.

One of those "weeds" would no doubt be net neutrality, the rules approved in 2015 that require internet providers to treat all web traffic equally. Pai, an outspoken critic of such regulation, predicted that net neutrality's days were numbered in a recent speech to anti-regulatory group Free State Foundation. Pai's fellow conservative in the commission, Michael O'Rielly, has said open internet rules are "wrongheaded" and "ultimately unworthy of continuation."

Pai has been seen as a frontrunner for the job and met with Trump in New York on Monday. According to Politico sources, an announcement is imminent, and that it would be a permanent appointment, not interim. Pai would also not need initial Senate approval because he is a sitting member. According to agency rules, he will need to be reconfirmed at the end of the year.

The commission is currently divided 2-1 in favor of Republicans, with Mignon Cleburne as the lone Democrat. With Wheeler gone, and the renewal of now-former commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel ignored by Congress, Trump has been handed an opportunity to stack the agency with two more members of his party, bringing it to 4-1.

A request for comment sent to Pai's FCC address was not immediately returned.

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