House GOP to Obama: Drop Net Neutrality Agenda

by Capitol Confidential

Top Republican lawmakers last week sent President Barack Obama a letter protesting the Federal Communications Commission’s recent overture at adopting so-called net neutrality rules, asking that he block the agency’s controversial move to reclassify broadband.

House GOP leaders John Boehner and Eric Cantor said the FCC’s proposal to reclassify broadband as a telecommunications service “could hardly come at a worse time for our nation’s economy, which is already struggling against a steady flow of increased government spending and taxation from Washington.”

The plan, announced to much fan fare among liberal special interests groups, calls for broadband to be regulated under a framework developed in the 1930s for traditional telephone services. It was widely seen among Capitol Hill observers as an end-run around a recent appeals court ruling in which the FCC was found to be lacking regulatory authority in the realm of broadband services.

“As the pretext for this government takeover of yet another sector of our economy, the Chairman claims he cannot implement the broadband plan in the wake of the Comcast decision,” the pair’s letter read. “Even if this assertion were true, the Chairman’s proper course should be to seek additional authority from Congress.”

In the days and weeks following the landmark ruling, members of Congress expressed concern over the Commission’s direction. Discounting the court’s ruling and altogether avoiding Congressional action, they feared, would set a dangerous precedent for other federal agencies whose respective agendas have been dealt blows.

“Instead, the Chairman has chosen a politically-motivated end-run around both the courts and the Congress to implement his network neutrality regulations,” the two warned the president.

Separately, Texas Republican Joe Barton, who sits on the House Energy and Commerce Committee, said federal programs to supplement broadband deployment by subsidizing its costs–another plank of a pro-net neutrality agenda- are unnecessary and counterproductive.

“We’ve got a broadband deployment program right now — it’s called free enterprise, Barton said at a hearing of the committee’s communications and internet subcommittee. “This is a solution that’s looking for a problem that I don’t believe exists.”

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