The Federal Communications Commission is losing one of its two Democrats in the coming weeks. Mignon Clyburn (@MClyburnFCC) was appointed by President Obama in 2009, and she has been on the losing side of a number of battles in recent months at the Republican-controlled agency, including the FCC's dismantling of net neutrality rules that Clyburn helped to craft.
"It's disturbing," she tells Here & Now's Mina Kim. "It took us years, and we used this inclusive, painstaking process in order to achieve the balance that looked out and took into account consumers' needs. And to see all of that being put at risk, it's painful. It was unnecessary."
On her decision to leave the FCC
"Why now? Because I think the time is right for me. I've spent nearly nine years at the FCC. I've seen a lot of great policy decisions. I've been a part of enabling broadband connectivity all over this country, bringing awareness to those who are on the wrong side of the opportunities and technology and economic divide. And how a connected America ... what that could mean for them. I have done all that I know how to do to bring a voice, to bring awareness to consumers' needs. And so I concluded that my effectiveness would be more so realized on the outside as opposed to staying at the commission."
On Senate Democrats preparing to force a procedural vote on restoring net neutrality rules
"They're listening to the citizens back home. More than 80 percent of them are in support of strong net neutrality principles. They're looking at those two states and more than 30 other states that are considering their own legislation. Six states have put executive orders in place. They say, 'If you do business in our state, you will abide by those net neutrality principles.' They're listening to the will of the people because the federal government has punted. The federal government that, when my parents were coming up, it was a positive backstop when it came to insuring those opportunities and those freedoms. And state and local governments are the only backstops that people have now."
"I concluded that my effectiveness would be more so realized on the outside as opposed to staying at the commission."Mignon Clyburn
On FCC chairman Ajit Pai's comments that loosening restrictions will spur broadband in low-income and rural areas
"If he were to go to those communities and ask those individuals who their provider is, he would have heard that in at least half of those communities, there's only one option. And in some communities, there are no real options. And again, if you really tell and dissect and tell people exactly what the future holds for them — that monopoly will be the gatekeeper, potentially, when it comes to their access over the internet. If he were to be transparent about what the future holds for them, I guarantee you he would not have gotten a great reception."
On phone rates for people in prisons
"They have seen their rates — particularly when it comes to intrastate rates, those rates that people are charged inside of this state — they've seen them go up. We made some initial strides, positive strides, with interstates, meaning calls between states. But what happened when we made that commitment to rationalize those rates in between states, what those companies did was shift the costs to that more unregulated infrastructure when it comes to intrastate rates. So what we're seeing is people are actually paying more to call loved ones inside of the states. And the FCC is silent, is sitting on its hands, and there is no agency that is stepping up to the plate."
On who will pick up where she left off at the FCC
"I am hoping my successor will. There are millions that don't have broadband at home. There are millions who don't have a dial tone. I am hopeful that that individual will hear those voices and will be an advocate for change.
"What was going to happen by the end of the year ... I was going to have to leave. So, my time of service was up. But, look, I'm not going far. So while I won't have a vote, I will still have a voice. And you will hear it."
This segment aired on May 2, 2018.
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