Process fight consumes net-neutrality debate

At a subcommittee markup last week, Rep. Edward MarkeyEdward (Ed) John MarkeySenate Democrats introduce bill to block Trump's refugee ban FCC votes to limit program funding internet access for low-income communities Two GOP senators oppose Trump’s EPA chemical safety nominee MORE (D-Mass.) called the effort an "historic" moment for the committee since the CRA has so rarely been invoked.

"This motion of disapproval has been only used once in 15 years so we all know that we are dealing with a very solemn subject here in this room," he said.  

But Republicans shot back on Tuesday charging Democrats of hypocrisy.

"What’s wrong with this picture?," a GOP committee spokesman said in an e-mail. 

"The Congressional Review Act, which Senate Majority Leader Harry ReidHarry ReidVirginia was a wave election, but without real change, the tide will turn again Top Lobbyists 2017: Grass roots Boehner confronted Reid after criticism from Senate floor MORE originally cosponsored and described as a 'reasonable, sensible approach to regulatory reform,' is a valuable tool to eliminate uncertainty created in the marketplace by unelected bureaucrats’ power-grab," the e-mail said.

The e-mail noted that Markey and Reps. Anna Eshoo (D-Calif.) and Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) have supported CRA resolutions in the past. 

As for the Democrats' complaint that they cannot amend the resolution, many Republicans see the FCC's entire net-neutrality action as illegal, and so are not interested in salvaging even the least controversial aspects. 

At Tuesday's vote on the repeal resolution, expect more process sparring as well as an argument about the policy itself. Eshoo, ranking member of the Communications subcommittee, will focus on the Democratic view that net neutrality is a pro-jobs policy. 

“By repealing rules to protect the hallmarks of the Internet, the Republican resolution will create market uncertainty, stifle consumer choice, and harm innovation and job creation. Americans overwhelmingly oppose practices which limit a free and open Internet, but Republicans have turned a deaf ear,” she will say, according to prepared remarks. 

Members are also expected to clash on whether the committee should focus on an issue that is unlikely to eventually get the president's signature. 

The committee should not be "wasting time on another partisan bill that is not going to become law," ranking member Waxman (D-Calif.) said Monday.

But Communications subcommittee Chairman Greg Walden (Ore.) made no apologies for the effort. 

"We don't live in a dictatorship. The president doesn't get to decide what does or doesn't get discussed," he said on C-SPAN last week. "I think it is an issue the public cares about and we have a responsibility to review it."