from the protecting-the-Internet-by-selling-out-my-constituents dept
At the vanguard of this assault are ISP-loyal politicians, who intend to throw everything but the kitchen sink at the FCC over the next few months in the hopes of if not destroying the rules -- at least delaying them -- while publicly flogging the FCC for good measure. That apparently starts with FCC Commissioners Ajit Pai and Michael O'Rielly lagging on providing their dissenting edits so the rules can't be released, followed by a gauntlet of at least five potential hearings over the next month aimed at shaming the FCC for destroying the Internet.
A letter from the House Judiciary Committee Members (pdf) to FCC boss Tom Wheeler complains that the FCC is pursuing the "most oppressive and backward regulatory option possible," which is odd since a growing list of companies that actually sell broadband -- like Cablevision, Frontier, Sprint and Sonic -- all say the rules won't impact their businesses in the slightest, since most of the heavier utility-components of Title II won't be applied. So why is the House Judiciary Committee fighting the rules? Because they're just super worried about the health of the Internet:
"We will not stand by idly as the White House, using the FCC, attempts to advance rules that imperil the future of the Internet. We plan to support and urge our colleagues to pass a Congressional Review Act resolution disapproving the “Open Internet” rules. Not only will such a resolution nullify the ‘Open Internet’ rules, the resolution will prevent the FCC from relying on Title II for any future net neutrality rules unless Congress explicitly instructs the FCC to take such action."Of course any measure that makes its way to the President's desk will be vetoed -- and a Congressional Review Action still requires a presidential signature or enough votes to override a veto, both of which are extremely unlikely. The only real way to overturn the agency's new laws is either via lawsuit (which the FCC has gone to great length to avoid losing this time after the courts repeatedly told them they needed to classify ISPs as common carriers to be on solid footing) or through a party change (and therefore an FCC leadership shift) in 2016.
Until then, the House Judiciary Committee hopes to keep the hysteria momentum rolling by flinging around some now well-worn falsehoods, like claiming that the White House acted improperly when it publicly proclaimed it preferred Title II rules:
"We are also troubled by the manner in which the ‘Open Internet’ rules were formulated. On November 10, 2014, President Obama urged the FCC to impose Title II regulations on the Internet. Shortly thereafter, you began making statements in support of a Title II approach. Certainly, the timing of your support for Title II following the President’s recommendation calls into question the degree, if not the existence, of the FCC’s independence from the White House."Yes, because the "timing" of things is enough to make them illegal, right? You'll note the letter falls well short of claiming the White House broke the law, because despite whatever disdain the White House has for the law on a wide variety of topics, they did nothing wrong here. As we've noted previously, it's perfectly routine and legal for the White House to express its policy desires to the FCC, and every President in the last thirty years has done so (like when George W. Bush pushed the FCC for weaker media consolidation rules, or Bill Clinton urged the FCC to ban hard liquor ads on TV).
Republicans were already planning a rewrite this year of the Communications Act, and you can be dead certain that effort will be rekindled with a keen and aggressive eye on making regulators as ill-equipped as possible when it comes to doing anything about the nation's stagnant telecom duopoly. You know, for the health of the Internet.