Democrat Mignon Clyburn was sworn yesterday in as FCC commissioner, giving the commission a complete five-member panel for the first time in eight months.

Clyburn's swearing in followed a similar ceremony last Friday for Meredith Attwell Baker, who filled the Republican seat on the commission. Clyburn is a regulator from South Carolina and daughter of House Majority Whip James Clyburn. Baker is a former official for the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA).

The two newcomers will join an FCC led by new Chairman Julius Genachowski and two incumbent commissioners, Democrat Michael Copps and Republican Robert McDowell.

With Clyburn taking office, the FCC has five commissioners for the first time since former Commissioner Deborah Taylor Tate's term ended in early January. A month earlier, Congress asked then-Chairman Kevin Martin not to pursue key communications initiatives other than those associated with the digital-television transition until a new FCC was in place following the administration of President Barack Obama taking office.

While Beltway sources have insisted that the FCC has remained busy during the past nine months — particularly at the staff level — many decisions pending at the agency essentially had been put on hold until the new commission was put in place. For public safety, some of the more important items include issues related to a 700 MHz broadband system, 911 location-accuracy rules and clarity regarding narrowbanding spectrum below 512 MHz scheduled for 2013.

"We're certainly glad the commission is back at full strength," Robert Gurss, director of legal and government affairs for the Association of Public-Safety Communications Officials (APCO).

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