Here comes the turf war between Congress and the Federal Communications Commission, which has been trying to set new rules for the Internet. Ahead of the FCC’s upcoming vote next Tuesday (Dec. 21) on net neutrality, Congressional Republicans this week ramped up criticism of the commission, vowing to fight back with hearings and strict oversight of the regulator.
Just one day after being named chairman and vice chairman of the Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Communications, Technology and the Internet Reps. Greg Walden (Ore.), Lee Terry (Neb.) and Energy and Commerce Chair Fred Upton (Mich.) called for full release of the FCC’s net neutrality order, blasting the FCC for lack of transparency.
On the Senate side, 29 GOP Senators, including Commerce’s ranking member Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison (Texas) and Sen. Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.) sent a letter earlier this week urging the FCC to back down from regulating the Internet.
If passed, the FCC’s order, which no one has seen except the commissioners, would adopt rules of the road prohibiting Internet providers from blocking or discriminating against lawful Internet traffic.
“Your proposal to adopt network neutrality rules is likely the most controversial item the FCC has had before it in at least a decade,” wrote Reps. Upton, Walden and Terry. “It holds huge implications for the future of the Internet, investment, innovation, and jobs. And even apart from the debate over the merits, the legal analysis underpinning the item will have huge implications for FCC jurisdiction, agency legitimacy, and the proper role of Congress as the original source of regulatory authority in a representative democracy.”
A number of Democratic Congressional leaders have weighed in with their support including Rep. Ed Markey (Mass). and Sen. John Kerry (Mass.).
Despite opposition from both FCC Republican Commissioners and Republican Congressional leaders, the FCC’s order is expected to pass. So this one will likely be headed for the Hill.