Democratic Seat at FCC Filled

Move likely to make it more challenging for FCC Chairman Michael Powell to push through deregulatory agenda.

The U.S. Senate late Thursday filled the Federal Communications Commissions fifth seat, which had remained vacant for more than a year largely because of partisan wrangling.

Jonathan Adelstein, an aide to Sen. Tom Daschle, D-S.D., majority leader in this years closely divided Senate, will join one other Democrat at the Republican-led FCC.

The new 2-3 split at the commission likely will make it more challenging for Chairman Michael Powell, son of Secretary of State Colin Powell, to push through his largely deregulatory agenda. Republican commissioner Kevin Martin has been known to dissent from Powells positions in the past, indicating that the chairman potentially could find himself in a minority on future issues.

Congress is busy trying to advance a number of long-pending decisions before it adjourns its brief, post-election session. "Theyve definitely been making progress on nominees," said an aide on the Senate commerce committee. "At the end of any session you move a lot of agreeable legislation and nominees. [Adelstein] definitely got swept up in a post-election frenzy before they leave."