Republicans in Congress charged with overseeing the FCC responded Thursday to the release of the agency’s aggressive Internet regulations, saying their congressional proposal would do a better job of protecting net neutrality with far less government interference.
“The world finally gets to read and understand just what the White House, acting by proxy via a partisan FCC vote, has done to impose the federal government’s heavy hand to regulate the Internet as a utility,” South Dakota Republican Sen. John Thune, Michigan Republican Rep. Fred Upton and Oregon Republican Rep. Greg Walden said in a statement Thursday following the release. (RELATED: FCC FINALLY Releases Net Neutrality Internet Regulations)
Thune chairs the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, Upton the House Committee on Energy and Commerce and Walden the House Communications and Technology Subcommittee. All oversee and overlap regulatory ground with the FCC.
“We look forward to working our way through the 300-plus pages of this Washington manifesto,” the chairmen said. “Our six-page draft legislation could prevent abuses and promote robust Internet investment — all without the overreach included in the FCC’s order.”
Thune along with Senate and House colleagues proposed a bill in January that would ban Internet service providers from blocking content, slowing service speeds or establishing higher-priced fast lanes — the core concerns behind net neutrality advocates — without reclassifying ISPs as public utilities under what the lawmakers describe as “Depression-era rules to regulate the Internet.”
Last month, a Thune aide said the senator was waiting on the FCC to pass its rules and make them public before launching a campaign to round up bipartisan support for the bill, which Thune believes will be necessary for passage.
“One way or another, I am committed to moving a legislative solution, preferably bipartisan, to stop monopoly-era phone regulations that harm Internet consumers and innovation,” Thune said in February. “Any claims that Republicans have conceded or surrendered to the Obama administration’s power grab of the Internet through FCC action is a mischaracterization of our ongoing efforts.”
Thune’s committee has scheduled a hearing next Wednesday to discuss the rules, during which all five FCC commissioners will testify, according to a statement from the committee.