House panel to hold net neutrality hearing day before FCC vote

A House subcommittee will hold a hearing on net neutrality just 24 hours before regulators vote on tough new rules next week.

Witnesses have yet to be announced for the Communications and Technology subpanel session next Wednesday, but it will offer a platform for congressional critics of the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) move to have their voice heard.

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"The closer we get to the FCC rubber stamping President Obama's Internet grab, the more disturbing it becomes,” subcommittee Chairman Greg Walden (R-Ore.) said in a statement on Wednesday announcing the hearing.

“Consumers, innovators, and job creators all stand to lose from this misguided approach,” he added. “What’s more, this plan sends the wrong signal around the globe that freedom and openness on the Internet are best determined by governments — a far cry from decades of bipartisan commitment to light-touch regulation.”

On Thursday, the FCC is set to vote on rules that would reclassify broadband Internet service so that it can be regulated under some of the same laws that it uses for traditional phone service. The move comes after Obama called for the “strongest possible” net neutrality rules last year, in what many critics saw as an unprecedented exertion of influence on the legally independent agency. 

Walden and other GOP lawmakers have worked to write legislation enshrining some net neutrality protections in law, in order to block the FCC from taking the bolder move.