White House Warns Congress To Stop Its Sneak Attacks On Net Neutrality

from the duopoly-defenders dept

For most of the last year, the House has desperately been trying to punish the FCC for standing up to ISPs on net neutrality. This has included an endless number of taxpayer funded “accountability” hearings designed to shame the agency, as well as attempts to gut FCC authority and funding via sneaky budget riders. The latest example is the House Appropriations Committee’s 29-17 vote to approve an FCC appropriations bill (pdf), part of a larger Financial Services Bill determining the 2017 budgets for multiple agencies. That bill not only dramatically reduces the FCC budget, but tries to hamstring net neutrality rule enforcement.

Apparently growing tired of these kinds of sneak attacks, the White House last week was forced to issue a statement of administration policy (pdf) lamenting the use of “highly problematic ideological provisions” in budget bills aimed at stopping regulators overseeing multiple sectors from doing their jobs. Specifically, the White House defends the FCC’s net neutrality plan, noting that bureaucratic sneak attacks will not be able to undermine an agency vote and the support of millions of Americans:

“For almost a century, U.S. law has recognized that companies who connect Americans to the world have special obligations not to exploit the monopoly they enjoy over access in and out of Americans’ homes or businesses. It is common sense that the same philosophy should guide any service that is based on the transmission of information?whether a phone call, or a packet of data. The FCC’s rules recognize that broadband service is of the same importance, and must carry the same obligations as so many of the other vital services do.

These carefully-designed rules have already been implemented in large part with little to no impact on the telecommunications companies making important investments in the U.S. economy, and would ensure that neither the cable company nor the phone company would be able to act as a gatekeeper, restricting what Americans can do or see online. The appropriations process should not be used to overturn the will of both an independent regulator and millions of Americans on this vital issue.

The White House also takes a moment to slam the House attempt to kill the FCC’s plan to bring competition to the cable box. Specifically, the statement complains how budget riders would have forced the plan into permanent committee purgatory:

“The Administration opposes section 636 that aims at delaying the FCC from adopting or enforcing new rules to open the video set-top box market to additional competition. Currently, 99 percent of cable and satellite TV consumers rent set-top boxes directly from the cable providers, costing households an average of $230 per year. The FCC is already committed to a lengthy, thorough rulemaking process that would establish a robust record of comment and analysis from companies, non-profit organizations, and academics. The current provision unnecessarily interferes with these long-established processes by requiring a delay of at least 270 days, and probably much longer, and a redundant, potentially costly study.”

Again, the politicians opposing both of these FCC initiatives breathlessly claim they’re only concerned about government “overreach.” In reality, campaign contributions simply have them tripping over themselves to see who can best defend the nation’s telecom duopolists from the faintest specter of competition and accountability. The White House statement makes it abundantly clear these sneak attacks will be vetoed, meaning that while they may be cathartic for net neutrality opponents trying to protect AT&T, Comcast and Verizon from the will of the public, they aren’t likely to be effective.

With the net neutrality rules now on solid legal ground and an appeal victory seen as unlikely, net neutrality opponents only have one real way to weaken the rules: elect a president sure to stock the FCC with revolving door regulators who’ll refuse to actually enforce them.

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Comments on “White House Warns Congress To Stop Its Sneak Attacks On Net Neutrality”

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Anonymous Coward says:

‘net neutrality opponents only have one real way to weaken the rules: elect a president sure to stock the FCC with revolving door regulators who’ll refuse to actually enforce them’

and considering how all of those in Congress are more concerned with having full bank accounts than doing their jobs of ensuring the public have the greatest choices on everything, this will be ignored until the White House has to make an example of someone. i hope that is sooner rather than later because without some sort of being held accountable by the people, there wont be any changes. AT&T, Comcast and Verizon will be throwing dollars around like a man with no arms, just to be able to carry on doing what they want, how they want, at the prices they want!

don't card (profile) says:

Republicans doing this; I'm shocked.

This is the same tactic that the Democrats used during the early Reagan era when he (Reagan) was pushing for the line-item veto.

I think both Reagon and Obama are correct (heaven forbid) in that tieing garbage legislation, as an ammendment, to a totally unrelated bill is just unexcusable, where its to cut a departments’ funding, or add additional funding.

nyuknyukjohn (profile) says:

Just a pipe

This is just like when the local natural gas company was forced to only provide a “pipe” to my house (for which I am charged a monthly fee as is right). I can now chose what ever company I want as the provider of my natural gas and the send it to me through the “pipe” provided by a different company. Sounds like my ISP. They just provide a “pipe” (for which they can charge me a fair price) and I can chose what i want to pay for through that “pipe”. Sounds like a utility to me.

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