Remember when Free Press and others claimed Congress was demanding that the Federal Communications Commission “do whatever it takes” to enact Net Neutrality? If you thought that was ridiculous then, it certainly is now. Yesterday, 74 House Democrats sent a letter to the FCC rebuking their unilateral drive to regulate the Internet without direction from Congress. From the letter:
The uncertainty this proposal creates will jeopardize jobs and deter needed investment for years to come. The significant regulatory impact of reclassifying broadband service is not something that should be taken lightly and should not be done without additional direction from Congress. (emphasis added)
If a letter last fall from 72 House Democrats stating that they had concerns with Net Neutrality was a shot across the bow, this letter is meant to deliver a significant blow to the FCC’s radical plans. Assuming House Republicans maintain opposition to Net Neutrality, that also means an even larger majority of Congress now opposes the FCC’s actions.
On the Senate side, yesterday 37 Republicans also sent a letter to the FCC with a slightly sharper tone. They noted that Net Neutrality has “been previously rejected by Congress and both Democratic and Republican administrations,” and called the legality of the FCC’s push for Internet regulations into question.
Free Press claims: “We cannot wait for Congress to act to protect consumers,” and Public Knowledge says: “They should be able to move ahead with their plans to protect consumers.” But when did protecting consumers mean circumventing our system of checks and balances? And does protecting consumers mean letting a team of unelected bureaucrats guided by pronounced socialists dictate the government’s first major foray into Internet regulation? Wrapping pleasant rhetoric about “consumer protection” around command-and-control regulations sounds more like political strategy in Venezuela than how policy should be made in the United States.
Yesterday, Democratic lawmakers also announced that they will begin looking at ways to rewrite the antiquated Communications Act of 1934, which guides the FCC’s legal authority. While the outcome and timetable of that undertaking is certainly unknown, it is at least the appropriate avenue to determine our nation’s telecom laws. And during the process, ATR will continue to weigh in heavily to ensure the laws reduce the regulatory burden and promote competition in a free market.