Barton asks FCC to abandon net neutrality rulemaking

Rep. Joe Barton (R-Texas), ranking member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, today sent a letter to the FCC asking Chairman Julius Genachowski to halt further action to issue a notice of proposed rulemaking on net neutrality, citing the fragile economy as the primary reason.

"In the macro-economic context of the most severe recession in a generation, independent agencies like the FCC should be extremely cautious as to the promulgation of regulatory policies which could retard investment in new technologies and cause loss of employment in the communications sector," Barton wrote.

He continued:  "I strongly urge you to consider whether proceeding with a rulemaking of this scope and effect is appropriate at this time. At the very least, a more prudent path would be to abandon the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking in favor of a Notice of Inquiry which would allow the Commission to collect data related to broadband usage at a deliberate pace without the potentially stifling effect the proposed rules could have on investment in the broadband sector."

Earlier this month, 20 House Republicans sent a letter urging against net neutrality regulations. Signers of that letter included Rep. Cliff Stearns (R-Fla.), ranking member of the technology and Internet subcommittee. But Barton's signature was absent from that letter. He was apparently waiting to send a letter of his own. Republican Senators also sent a letter to Genachowski.