House moves against net neutrality but obstacles remain

Nick R. Brown Contributor
Font Size:

This week Congress made inroads towards reversing the Federal Communications Commissions attempt to implement Net Neutrality regulatory rules on Internet Service Providers that would disallow the use of various business models.  Representatives using part of the Congressional Review Act (CRA) known as the Joint Resolution of Disapproval passed House Resolution 37, introduced by Rep. Greg Walden (R-OR) this past Tuesday 241-178.

“The CRA vote is most important – because it shows the [Obama] Administration that they will not be able to unaccountably rule via executive branch regulatory fiat,” commented Seton Motley, President of Less Government.

There remains some concern about how the resolution may fare in the Senate.  For the CRA to be introduced in the Senate, 30 senators must sign a petition to bring the resolution to the Senate floor for a vote.  According to sources close to the situation, 30 Republican senators are lined up for the petition.  The Republicans would require 4 Democrat colleagues to join them in order to pass the resolution.

While the Senate may be considered a tough road to travel, there are likely two other major hurdles.  The first of these is that of President Barack Obama himself. On the 2008 election trail, then candidate Obama campaigned diligently for the implementation of Net Neutrality rules and additionally has pressed FCC Chairman Julias Genachowski to wrap up an almost 2 year long process of attempting to enact Net Neutrality rules.  Republicans and those crossing the party line in Congress may find this attempt in vain if the Obama Administration has tired of the issue and vetoes the resolution.

The second major hurdle is the possible violation of CRA rules which might disqualify the resolution.  According to the CRA, Congress has 60 days in which they can review and overturn rules made by federal agencies.  This 60 day window is set to begin when the agency in question submits the rules to the Federal Register.  Because the FCC has not codified the rules officially by having them sent to the Federal Register there is actually nothing on record that this resolution can dispute.  Therefore by technicality the Congressional review process cannot yet begin, though the vote likely still carries weight through its message.

“A vote to repeal the FCC’s net neutrality rules under the Congressional Review Act sends a powerful signal to the Commission that its recent rulemaking is an affront to the will of the people,” said Ryan Radia, Associate Director of Technology Studies at the Competitive Enterprise Institute.  “Lawmakers have a duty to rein in renegade agencies, so congressional Republicans deserve praise for leading the push to stop the FCC’s lawless attempt to impose net neutrality regulations.”