Congress Investigating Net Neutrality Order Process

While there are not indications that FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler will reveal the text of the new net neutrality order the agency plans to vote on in two weeks, he has previously confirmed that he intends to invoke Title II of the Communications Act, which allows for the regulation of “common carriers” as public utilities.  The two Republican FCC Commissioners are irked; indeed, Commissioner Ajit Pai has been particularly vocal against the coming order, stating, “The American people are being misled about President Obama’s plan to regulate the Internet.”  However, they are not alone.  Republicans in Congress have expressed a desire to take on the issue through bipartisan legislation, rather than by Executive Branch regulation.  Moreover, Congressional leaders of investigative panels are getting involved.  Both Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-UT), Chairman of the House Oversight Committee, and Senator Ron Johnson (R-WI), Chairman of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, have begun to probe whether the White House compromised the independent decision-making of the FCC.  Chairman Johnson stated in a release, “The FCC’s new position on net neutrality is… a monumental shift from Chairman Wheeler’s original net neutrality proposal…. The decision is wrong, and the process raises serious questions about the President's inappropriate influence over what is supposed to be an independent agency that derives its authority from Congress and not the White House.”

By Aaron Mercer, Vice President of Government Relations

Published: February 13, 2015

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