Key Republican says there's 'no doubt' new leadership needed at FCC

The Federal Communications Commission's (FCC) net-neutrality effort suggests the agency needs to replace its top leadership, Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) said in an interview with The Hill on Tuesday.

Blackburn, a member of the House Communications subcommittee, noted expectations that the commission will unveil nearly 80 pages of Internet line regulations as soon as Tuesday night.

"There is no doubt they need new leadership at the FCC," she said, describing the end-of-year effort as a "scramble."

Blackburn said Republicans will work to block net-neutrality rules whether the FCC justifies them under Title I of the Communications Act or the more onerous Title II. 

"We pledge to do our part to make sure the Internet stays free and open so that innovators and content creators don't have to go to the FCC for permission to create and innovate on the next generation of technologies," she said.

Blackburn has authored legislation blocking net-neutrality in the past — she said hearings and a bill are two ways Republicans can halt the FCC. Opposition to net neutrality includes some Democrats, which could help a potential bill through the Senate, she added.

Blackburn also criticized big telecommunications companies for pushing the FCC to resolve the net-neutrality issue through new rules. AT&T, for instance, has engaged closely with the FCC on the issue.

"I think it is sad they would trade freedom for certainty of policy," she said.

The FCC's expected decision to move forward with net-neutrality rules, in spite of an election that arguably rejected big-government policies, shows that it is out of touch with Americans, Blackburn said.

"What I think you're seeing is just another example of their overreach," she said. "They don't want to rely on the Congress to make those decisions."

The agency should have spent more time listening to the views of Americans, Blackburn said.

"The FCC has shown a lack of respect and a lack of willingness to listen to the committee and a disrespect for the American people," she said.