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The U.S. Senate confirmed the nominations of Deborah Tate and Michael Copps to serve as members of the Federal Communications Commission, reinstalling a 2-2 Democratic-Republican deadlock at the agency. The action came late Wednesday. Republican Tate, an attorney serving as a director of the Tennessee Regulatory Authority, will be a new member of the five-person panel. She was appointed to fill the term of former Chairman Michael Powell, which expires in 2007. Democrat Copps, a strong advocate of tougher indecency enforcement and critic of increasing media consolidation, is being named to his second FCC term. He was first nominated by President Bush in May 2001. Their swearing-in will bring the commission back to four members. One open seat remains because of the Dec. 9 resignation of Republican Kathleen Abernathy. President Bush has not yet nominated anyone for her seat. Because of the partisan split on the commission, Chairman Kevin Martin will be forced to compromise more than he would like with the panel’s consolidation-wary Democrats to win the three-vote majority needed to approve telecommunications mergers and other controversial proceedings. The FCC appointments leave one federal nomination that is being watched by dealmakers lingering until the Senate resumes business following the holiday break. Thomas Barnett, acting chief of the Department of Justice Antitrust Division, must still win confirmation to be installed in the job permanently. A handful of senators appears to be blocking Barnett’s confirmation because of anger at the Justice Department over the agency’s long and unsuccessful court battle last year to block Oracle Corp.’s takeover of PeopleSoft. Copyright �2005 TDD, LLC. All rights reserved.

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