The U.S. Senate yesterday confirmed FCC nominees Deborah Tate and Michael Copps, restoring a 2-2 party split between Republicans and Democrats on the commission.

After their Dec. 13 hearings before the Senate Commerce Committee, Tate and Copps were expected to be confirmed quickly, but parliamentary maneuverings earlier this week on unrelated political issues appeared to jeopardize the ability to make the confirmations this month.

Tate, a Republican Tennessee regulator, will complete the term of former FCC Chairman Michael Powell, who resigned in March. Her term will expire in 2007. Copps, a Democratic commissioner who would have been forced to leave the FCC next year without this action, was confirmed to serve a second term that will expire in 2010.

The confirmations leave the FCC with one open slot, left by Republican Commissioner Kathleen Abernathy’s departure earlier this month.