Republicans Will Try to Kill New Net-Neutrality Rules

A showdown looms as the FCC announces bid to revive regulations recently struck down in federal court.

TAMPA, FL - AUGUST 28: U.S. Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) speaks during the Republican National Convention at the Tampa Bay Times Forum on August 28, 2012 in Tampa, Florida. Today is the first full session of the RNC after the start was delayed due to Tropical Storm Isaac. (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)
National Journal
Laura Ryan
Feb. 19, 2014, 12:29 p.m.

Re­pub­lic­ans are not happy about the ad­min­is­tra­tion’s plan to re­write net-neut­ral­ity rules aimed at en­sur­ing free and equal ac­cess to the In­ter­net and will in­tro­duce a bill soon to block the ef­fort.

The Fed­er­al Com­mu­nic­a­tions Com­mis­sion an­nounced Wed­nes­day that it plans to re­in­state rules that would re­strict In­ter­net pro­viders from block­ing web­sites or char­ging sites like Net­flix an ex­tra fee for faster ser­vice. The an­nounce­ment comes one month after a fed­er­al court struck down the com­mis­sion’s net-neut­ral­ity rules but up­held its au­thor­ity to reg­u­late the In­ter­net.

Top Re­pub­lic­ans called the FCC’s ef­forts to re­vive net-neut­ral­ity rules “a solu­tion in search of a prob­lem,” and plan to fight any new rules. Rep. Mar­sha Black­burn of Ten­ness­ee will in­tro­duce le­gis­la­tion in the com­ing weeks to block what she calls the “so­cial­ist­ic” pro­pos­al.

“Fed­er­al con­trol of the In­ter­net will re­strict our on­line free­dom and leave Amer­ic­ans fa­cing the same hor­rors that they have ex­per­i­enced with Health­,” Black­burn said in a state­ment.

Black­burn’s bill will likely be more sym­bol­ic than sub­stant­ive, as was a bill in­tro­duced by Demo­crats in early Feb­ru­ary aimed at restor­ing net-neut­ral­ity rules. The Re­pub­lic­an bill would not pass in the Sen­ate, while the Demo­crat­ic bill would nev­er make it through the House. Rep. Anna Eshoo, au­thor of the Demo­crats’ bill, re­cently ad­mit­ted the bill had no chance of passing.

The ef­fort also leaves the FCC sharply di­vided, with both Re­pub­lic­an com­mis­sion­ers op­pos­ing the plan.

“Today’s an­nounce­ment re­minds me of the movie Ground­hog Day,” Com­mis­sion­er Ajit Pai said in a state­ment. “I am skep­tic­al that this ef­fort will end any dif­fer­ently from the last.”

Re­pub­lic­ans have long said net-neut­ral­ity reg­u­la­tion stifles in­nov­a­tion and over­steps the FCC’s leg­al au­thor­ity. Demo­crats wel­comed the FCC an­nounce­ment as an im­port­ant step to pro­tect­ing a “free and open In­ter­net.”

{{ BIZOBJ (video: 4744) }}

What We're Following See More »
Eleven States Sue Administration Over Transgender Bathroom Access
2 hours ago

The great restroom war of 2016 continues apace, as eleven states have sued the Obama administration in federal court, claiming its federal guidance on how schools should accommodate transgender students "has no basis in law." "The lawsuit was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas on behalf of Alabama, Arizona, Georgia, Louisiana, Maine, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, West Virginia and Wisconsin. The lawsuit argues that the federal government has worked to turn workplaces and schools 'into laboratories for a massive social experiment.'"

Puerto Rico Debt Bill Passes House Committee
2 hours ago

By a 29-10 vote, the House Natural Resources Committee today passed the bill to allow Puerto Rico to restructure its $70 billion in debt. The legislation "would establish an oversight board to help the commonwealth restructure its un-payable debt and craft an economic recovery plan."

Wyden Bill Would Make Nominees’ Tax Disclosures Mandatory
2 hours ago

"Though every major party nominee since 1976 has released his tax returns while running for president, the practice has never been required by law. Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) wants to change that. The senior Democrat on the Senate Finance Committee, which handles tax issues, introduced a bill on Wednesday that would force presidential candidates to release their most recent tax returns. The Presidential Tax Transparency Act, as the bill is called, would require candidates to make their latest three years of tax returns public no later than 15 days after becoming the nominee."

Ryan Not Endorsing Trump Just Yet
4 hours ago
U.S. Capitol Doesn’t Meet Standards for New Moms
5 hours ago

"The U.S. Capitol does not meet the federal government’s own standards for accommodations for new mothers," according to an investigation by NBC Channel 4. "Though the U.S. General Services Administration, a government agency which oversees the management of federal government buildings, requires a minimum number of lactation stations and changing tables, Congress is exempt from the rules and fails to meet those standards." The Capitol grounds have 12 lactations stations, far short of the 42 that would be required given the number of female workers there.