Critics of a resolution aimed at blocking the network neutrality rules approved by the Federal Communications Commission will have little recourse except to vote against the measure when it comes up for a vote in a House subcommittee Wednesday.
The House Energy and Commerce Communications and Technology Subcommittee is set to vote Wednesday morning on the resolution of disapproval under the Congressional Review Act aimed at blocking the FCC's net neutrality rules, which were approved in December. The resolution was introduced by Communications and Technology Subcommittee Chairman Greg Walden, R-Ore.
The Congressional Review Act gives lawmakers a limited amount of time to pass a resolution of disapproval to block an agency rule. While such resolutions are subject to the normal legislative process, they can not be amended.
Energy and Commerce ranking member Henry Waxman, D-Calif., and Rep. Anna Eshoo of California, the top Democrat on the Communications and Technology Subcommittee, Tuesday wrote Walden and Energy and Commerce Chairman Fred Upton, R-Mich., urging them to take up the resolution under "regular order" by holding a hearing on the measure before marking it up.
"You apparently believe that disapproving the FCC regulation will promote economic growth. There are, however, many fast-growing companies that take a different position and believe approval of the disapproval resolution would be a serious threat to our economy," Waxman and Eshoo wrote. "Members should have the opportunity to hear their perspective before voting on the resolution."
An Energy and Commerce spokeswoman noted that the committee held a hearing on net neutrality last month that featured all five FCC commissioners. Walden and other critics of the net neutrality rules, which are aimed at barring broadband providers from discriminating against Internet content or applications, say they will stifle broadband investment and innovation.
"This is just bad policy when you have a federal agency that wants to protect the Internet by freezing the Internet," Rep. Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn., an Energy and Commerce member, said Tuesday afternoon at a forum on net neutrality sponsored by Tech Freedom.
In addition to the resolution of disapproval, Walden and Rep. Cliff Stearns, R-Fla., were successful in attaching an amendment to a bill passed last month by the House that would fund the federal government for the rest of fiscal year 2011 that would block the FCC from using its funds to implement the net neutrality order. Blackburn also has offered a bill that would specifically bar the FCC from implementing its order and would refer the issue back to Congress for action.
All but 10 Democrats who voted on Walden's defunding amendment opposed it. Rep. John Barrow, D-Ga., was among the 10 Democrats who did support Walden's amendment and also sits on the Energy and Commerce Communications and Technology subcommittee. A spokesman did not immediately respond to a question about whether Barrow will support the resolution at Wednesday's markup.