The possibility that the Federal Communications Commission could vote down chairman Tom Wheeler’s aggressive net neutrality proposal on Thursday just became a reality.
After almost a month of solid speculation that the Democratically dominated FCC would adopt Wheeler’s proposal along a partisan 3-2 vote, The Hill is reporting Tuesday that Democratic Commissioner Mignon Clyburn is having second thoughts.
Clyburn reportedly wants Wheeler to scale back some of the restrictions on Internet service providers included in the proposal, which seeks to regulate ISPs as public utilities and mandate companies conform to government standards for content, price and speed. (RELATED: Republican FCC Commissioner Slams ‘Obama’s 332-Page Plan To Regulate The Internet’)
Wheeler must now decide whether to step back from the vote and reign in parts cited by Clyburn in order to guarantee passage of some form of his proposal, or spend the next two days convincing the commissioner to tow the party line and risk losing the new regulations entirely in their current form.
Clyburn has previously been criticized as being a friend to the cable industry, which is against the new regulations. (RELATED: Comcast, Time Warner Pay $132,000 To Honor FCC Commissioner Ahead Of Merger Approval)
Wheeler needs a “yes” vote from both Clyburn and Democratic commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel to pass the measure, with Republican commissioners Ajit Pai and Michael O’Rielly having already announced their intentions to vote in the negative for the plan.
The latter two asked Wheeler Monday to release his proposal to the public and postpone the commission’s vote and open a 30-day window for public comment on the plan. (RELATED: Republican FCC Commissioners Ask Wheeler To Delay Net Neutrality Vote, Release Proposal)
Chairman Jason Chaffetz of the House Oversight Committee has also requested a review of the plan — particularly the White House’s involvement in its drafting — prior to a vote for implementation by the commission. (FLASHBACK: Senator Obama: ‘Irresponsible’ For FCC To Vote On Rules Unreleased To The Public)