GOPers Aim to Declaw FCC, Net Neutrality

Reversing the Federal Communications Commission’s net neutrality rules and strong FCC oversight are among the key issues the House Energy and Commerce Committee will take up in the first session of the 112th Congress.

Over the objections of the two Republican commissioners, the FCC asserted its authority over the Internet and passed net neutrality rules on Dec. 21. The rules essentially prohibit Internet services from blocking or discriminating against lawful Internet content traffic.

Even before the committee document was issued Tuesday (Jan. 18), Rep. Fred Upton (R-Mich.), chairman of the full committee, made no secret of his intent to nullify the rules under the Congressional Review Act. The action, which requires a simple majority in both the House and the Senate, must happen within 60 days of the official FCC transmittal of the rules, which are still not out.

The issue is likely to be among the first hearings held by the Communications and Technology Subcommittee chaired by Rep. Greg Walden (R-Ore.), who along with Upton, Rep. Lee Terry (R-Neb.) and Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) held a press conference within hours of the FCC’s vote. During that press conference, Walden vowed it would be the first hearing for the subcommittee.

Other issues on the agenda are writing legislation to allow the government to auction spectrum voluntarily returned by broadcasters. Internet privacy was listed as a “possible topic.”