FTC Nominees Make Progress

Advertising Law

Click here for COVID-19 guidance and information

The confirmation of four new members of the Federal Trade Commission (FTC)—including a chairperson—inched closer to reality after the Senate Commerce Committee approved the nominations.

In February, President Donald J. Trump officially submitted his picks for the agency: Joseph Simons (selected as the new chair), Noah Phillips, Christine Wilson and Rohit Chopra, the lone Democrat among the bunch.

Antitrust attorney Simons, the former director of the FTC’s Bureau of Competition, has been in private practice in Washington, D.C., since leaving the FTC in 2003. Phillips currently acts as chief counsel to Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas), while Wilson previously served as chief of staff to former FTC Chair Tim Muris and has most recently been vice president for regulatory and international affairs at Delta Air Lines. Chopra’s experience includes time at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (as assistant director and student loan ombudsman) and the Consumer Federation of America.

At a hearing, Simons discussed issues ranging from cybersecurity (one of his choices for the top three challenges facing the FTC) to net neutrality to enforcement against big technology companies, such as Google. “Sometimes big is good, sometimes big is bad,” he told the Senate Commerce Committee. “Sometimes it’s both at the same time.”

The committee approved the nominations on a unanimous voice vote. No date has been set for a vote by the full Senate.

Why it matters: The White House has taken its time filling the FTC, which has been down to two members since the beginning of the Trump administration. Once the Senate votes in favor, the four nominees can take their positions with one open spot remaining. Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) has recommended one of his aides, Rebecca Slaughter, for that position.