Upton memo: 'FCC regulatory compass must be broken'

Upton makes a clear-cut pledge to stick to conservative policies in the telecom arena.

"The FCC's regulatory compass must be broken as they continue in their unrelenting pursuit to impose so-called network neutrality regulations, regardless of whether the agency has the legal authority for such a blind power grab, and whether such regulations will actually undermine the FCC's ability to achieve the goals of the National Broadband plan," the memo says.

The argument he lays out suggests net-neutrality rules would hurt the broadband economy in a way that could hinder the expansion of Internet access. Net-neutrality rules would constrain how phone and cable companies manage Internet traffic.

"The FCC must stand down from pursuing a course unauthorized and opposed by Congress," the memo says. 

Upton also touts his history on broadcast policy. He promises to support "traditional family values," noting that he has "long fought to curb indecency in public broadcasting, protect our kids from online predators and promote an accurate and transparent video game rating system."

Upton's letter hits many conservative chords: an allegation that "Nancy Pelosi has been derelict in [her] duty"; a pledge that Republicans "will fulfill our constitutional responsibility"; and a call for conservatives who want to "shine a light on [President Obama's] regulatory policies that have thus far been hiding in the dark." It also pledges to fight "Obamacare" and prevent taxpayer money from funding abortion.

The letter also emphasizes that Upton sees value in being a "team player." This could be a reference to public criticism of Upton as the committee battle has heated up, particularly by his Republican colleague Barton and Barton's aides.

Industry lobbyists said Monday that the negative tenor of Barton's campaign against Upton has left party leaders unimpressed. By contrast, Upton invoked party unity in his memo.

"As I learned from my old boss, President Ronald Reagan, 'There is no limit to what a man can do or where he can go if he doesn't mind who gets the credit,' " he said, referencing his tenure as a staffer in the Office of Management and Budget in the early 1980s.

Barton would need a waiver from his party to become chairman of the committee, but observers are skeptical that leaders will grant him that. Observers say Shimkus and Stearns are plotting to leap-frog Upton for the position because they see their voting records as more conservative.

-Updated at 9:40 a.m.