Forget the FCC, a bipartisan bill is the best way to net neutrality

Rep. Marsha BlackburnMarsha BlackburnKavanaugh becomes September surprise for midterm candidates Poll: Democrat Bredesen leads GOP's Blackburn by 5 points in Tennessee Senate race Dems gain momentum 50 days before midterms MORE’s (R-Tenn.) Feb. 11 op-ed in The Hill (“Tom Wheeler’s about-face”) argues that Congress should investigate reported contacts between the White House and the Federal Communications Commission on net neutrality because “the Internet cannot remain free and open if the rules that govern it were derived from a tainted process.” 

I have a better idea. Why not simply bypass the FCC process, which seems sadly divided on partisan lines in any event, and pass stronger bipartisan net neutrality rules through the ordinary legislative process? That would eliminate any concerns about a “tainted process” and bring other benefits as well.

Due to limits on its policymaking authority, FCC rules will be vulnerable to challenge in court and at a minimum will be tied up in litigation for years. A legislative solution would go into effect immediately and be very difficult to overturn in court.

FCC rules also come and go with the change of administration — a congressional law is much more difficult to change.

And finally, the FCC “Title II” approach brings damaging side effects that legislation would avoid. FCC rules would divest the Federal Trade Commission of jurisdiction to protect consumers on the Internet, and would be such a sweeping regulatory change that experts predict they would deeply chill investment and innovation in the broadband industry for years. That’s a costly “own goal” we simply can’t afford — particularly in light of the broadband industry’s strong record investing in our economy and producing jobs we need.

Looked at from any angle, bipartisan legislation is the best path forward on net neutrality.

From Lindsay Lewis, Progressive Policy Institute, Washington, D.C.


Without EPA, clean water at risk

A Feb. 13 op-ed on The Hill’s Congress Blog by Chris Wood, titled “Let EPA protect small streams,” highlights the numerous values of our waterways and the necessity of supporting the Environmental Protection Agency rule to restore Clean Water Act protections to intermittent streams and wetlands.

As an avid sportsman, I rely on healthy streams and wetlands for hunting and fishing. Equally crucial, however, is the necessity of protecting our drinking water, which, without this rule, remains at risk for over 117 million Americans. The EPA’s rule to close loopholes in the Clean Water Act is a common-sense effort to restore protections that keep waterways clean from pollution.

If there is one thing Americans should be able to agree on, it is that everyone needs and deserves access to clean water. It is time Americans united against the interests of big polluters and told their congressmen to enable the Clean Water Act to do what it was intended to do: protect the precious waterways of this great nation.

From Jack Braun, Washington, D.C.