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Congress

House Heads For Net Neutrality Showdown

March 7, 2011

Democrats on the House Energy and Commerce Communications and Technology Subcommittee are crying foul over GOP efforts to overturn federal Internet neutrality rules.

In a letter to the committee's Republican leaders, the Democrats ask that the resolution of disapproval, which was introduced under the Congressional Review Act, be reintroduced as a regular bill.

The CRA gives lawmakers a limited amount of time to try to overturn federal regulations after they are issued, but does not allow for amendments.

"The process you propose would deprive members of one of their most fundamental rights: the right to offer amendments," the letter states. "We recognize there is disagreement about the role of the Commission with respect to the Internet, but we do not believe that justifies denying us the right to amend your legislation."

A markup is scheduled immediately after a hearing on Wednesday. Although members may propose amendments, they will not be considered germane, under the rules.

House Democrats called for the hearing on the resolution of disapproval, which Republicans introduced in an effort to remove the new regulations.

Witnesses at the hearing will include a representative of AT&T, which has split from fellow telecom carrier Verizon and has said it is satisfied with the net neutrality rules as they were approved by the Federal Communications Commission in December.

Verizon, along with MetroPCS, is suing to stop the FCC from implementing the rules.
Communications and Technology Subcommittee Chairman Greg Walden, R-Ore., introduced the resolution last month following testimony from all five members of the commission. Republicans have attacked the rules as classic government overreach into the free market.

"The recent attempts of the FCC to regulate the internet through the imposition of net neutrality rules is a solution in search of a problem," Walden said. "In the end these are issues better determined by network engineers, entrepreneurs, and consumers acting in a vigorous marketplace, not the subjective politicized judgments of a federal agency."

Witnesses scheduled for Wednesday's hearing include:

Tom DeReggi
President
RapidDSL & Wireless

Shane Mitchell Greenstein, PhD
Northwestern University

Anna-Maria Kovacs, PhD
Strategic Choices

James Cicconi
Senior Executive Vice President-External and Legislative Affairs
AT&T

Robin Chase
CEO
Buzzcar

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