Senate lawmakers on Monday confirmed Ajit Pai to new five-year term on the Federal Communications Commission.

The Senate confirmed Pai in a 52-41 vote.

Trump named Pai as chairman of the FCC in January, and renominated him to a new five-year term in March. Pai's current term expires at the end of June.

Pai was first appointed to the FCC board in 2012 by President Obama and confirmed unanimously. But he has since drawn criticism from Democrats for opposing net neutrality and relaxing media ownership rules. Democrats have also complained Pai does not act independently, and appears to embrace Republican viewpoints.

During the Obama administration, Pai publicized a secret proposal from the FCC to send government researchers into newsrooms to question journalists about coverage choices. The FCC backed down on the plan after the media criticized the proposal.

Senate Democrats, who are in the minority, do not have the power to block Pai thanks to a rule change in the Senate that allows lawmakers to confirm executive branch appointees with 51 votes, rather than 60 votes.

"I believe he's smart and qualified, but the FCC is supposed to create competition and protect consumers. But chairman Pai just isn't doing that." Sen. Brian Schatz, D-Hawaii, who voted against the nomination, said in a floor speech before the vote.

Schatz and other Democrats who back net neutrality warned that without it, internet companies could alter the service to the disadvantage of consumers. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., also voted against Pai.

"Chairman Pai has not yet demonstrated a willingness to stray from the party line," Schatz said. "There has been no instance where he has done anything other than what is predictably Republican."

Republicans praised Pai ahead of the vote as someone who promoted market-based, pro-growth policy decisions who improved openness and transparency in the FCC.

Sen. Jerry Moran, R-Kansas, said Pai, a Kansas native, understands the challenges of rural America in accessing the internet.

"Ajit Pai has proven to be a capable and talented leader and one of the smartest people I've ever met, especially when it comes to public policy," Moran said.