The Senate Commerce Committee today voted overwhelmingly to move forward with Lina Khan’s nomination as FTC Commissioner, signaling that Khan is likely to ultimately be confirmed as the youngest Commissioner ever at 32. As we previously discussed here, Khan is primarily known as an antitrust scholar advocating for more exacting scrutiny of big tech companies.
Although Khan is likely to also advocate for more aggressive enforcement in consumer protection matters, a position that sometimes diminishes support amongst Republicans, eight of 12 GOP members of the Senate Commerce Committee voted to move forward with the nomination. With unanimous support amongst Democratic committee members, the broad bipartisan support for Khan could signal that both parties are embracing a tough enforcement stance against big tech.
Meanwhile, current FTC Commissioner and nominee to serve as CFPB Director, Rohit Chopra, awaits his full Senate confirmation vote. Chopra’s nomination as CFPB Director (discussed previously here) was advanced to the full senate by a 12-12 committee vote all the way back in March, along with President Biden’s nominee to serve as SEC Chair, Gary Gensler. Gensler was confirmed on April 14 as SEC Chair by a 53-45 vote.
Senate Democratic leaders may be holding the Chopra vote until Khan is also ready to be confirmed, which would allow Khan to simultaneously step into Chopra’s vacated seat and avoid a scenario where Acting Chair Slaughter serves temporarily as the only Democratic FTC Commissioner (with current Republican Commissioners Christine Wilson and Noah Phillips). Having Khan fill Chopra’s seat would also offer Khan a longer tenure at the Commission because Chopra is a holdover from a term that officially expired in September 2019.
It also remains to be seen whether President Biden will nominate Acting Chair Slaughter to the permanent position, or nominate someone else to the post.