A key Democrat on the House Energy and Commerce Committee said Wednesday that he would fight any efforts by Republicans to overturn the open Internet rules adopted Tuesday by the Federal Communications Commission.
Rep. Bobby Rush, D-Ill., told Tech Daily Dose in an interview that while he has concerns that the FCC excluded wireless broadband from its prohibition on "unreasonable" discrimination, the net neutrality order is a step in the right direction. Rules requiring greater transparency of broadband providers network management practices and barring the blocking of access to lawful content, applications and services would apply to wireless broadband.
While he said he is still considering whether to push to extend all the rules to wireless, "one thing I am going to fight against are any efforts by Republicans to repeal the FCC's order," Rush said, adding that any effort by Republicans to derail this process is off-targeted, ill conceived and needs to be resisted."
Incoming Energy and Commerce Chairman Fred Upton, R-Mich., and other key GOP members of the committee said Tuesday after the FCC's vote that they will push to block the FCC rules from going into effect by trying to pass a resolution of disapproval under the Congressional Review Act, which gives Congress a limited amount of time after a federal agency approves a rule or regulation to try to overturn it.
Senate Commerce ranking member Kay Bailey Hutchison, R-Texas, has said she also will seek to use the same procedure to try to block the net neutrality rules.
Even if Congress were to pass such a resolution, which would be binding on the FCC, Rush said he would strongly urge President Obama to veto it. Obama voiced support Tuesday for the FCC's net neutrality vote.
Despite this, Rush said he will be watching closely to see the impact of the net neutrality rules on wireless subscribers. Polls show that minorities are the biggest users of wireless broadband. Rush voiced concern that rates for wireless broadband will increase.
Meanwhile, Rush said he is still confident that he will be named the ranking member of the Energy and Commerce Communications, Technology and the Internet Subcommittee but does not expect a decision on the issue until January when lawmakers return to Washington for the start of the 112th Congress.
"The way I see it, I am the only ... declared candidate in writing" for the subcommittee, Rush said. When asked about whether Rep. Edolphus Towns who is expected to return to the committee and has more seniority than Rush would bump him for the top Democratic spot on the subcommittee, Rush said the New York Democrat has not given any indication that he would make such a move.
But Rush added that he's a strong advocate of the congressional seniority system and that if Towns were to exercise his seniority and seek the ranking spot on the Communications Subcommittee, "I would have to stand down if he does that."
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