A day after the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) filled out its full roster of commissioners for the first time since April 2018 with Senate confirmation of Brendan Carr and Geoffrey Starks to full five-year terms, the FCC shuttered most of their operations on Thursday amid the partial government shutdown.

The FCC’s outage-reporting system will still be functional for letting the agency know if local 911 service goes down and will also continue with its 5G wireless spectrum auction because it is funded by the auction itself. Its website will maintain functionality, but without any new updates.

Issues with billing, consumer protection and any complaints will go unanswered during the partial shutdown, however.

Confirmations on Carr and Starks had been on hold after Senator Dan Sullivan, R-Alaska, placed a hold on Carr’s nomination over a dispute involving the agency’s rural healthcare efforts. Carr, a Republican nominee, and Starks, a Democrat nominee, had been paired together so one could not be confirmed without the other.

Carr’s nomination had also been placed on hold by Senator Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., over a mobile broadband dispute, but that hold was resolved in late December.

“The agreement to pair and confirm these nominees finally gives us a full FCC to decide important questions about spectrum management, the deployment of broadband to underserved communities, and building next-generation wireless networks,” Sen. John Thune, R-S.D., chairman of the Senate Commerce Committee said.

The FCC now has all five chairs filled with three Republicans and two Democrats.

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Jordan Smith
Jordan Smith
Jordan Smith is a MeriTalk Senior Technology Reporter covering the intersection of government and technology.