FCC pushes back September meeting

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has pushed back the date of its next meeting to Sept. 23, a week after it was previously scheduled. An FCC spokesperson said the change came due to a scheduling issue.

The date of the meeting has been a point of contention for Republicans on Capitol Hill, who said the previous date was too soon for the agency to vote on its reclassification proceeding during the September session.

The FCC has two meetings left before the midterm elections. Some analysts say the elections could sweep in enough right-leaning members to pass legislation blocking the agency from moving to increase its authority over phone and cable companies by reclassifying the legal status of broadband service.

Reps. Steve Scalise (R-La.) and Cliff Stearns (R-Fla.) urged the FCC at a hearing last month to keep reclassification off its September meeting agenda because they say the agency needs more time to review the large volume of comments it has received about the proceeding.

"The FCC should definitely not rush any process that gives Congress little time to react after returning from recess. Over 8,000 pages of comments have been submitted to the FCC on this proposal, and the comment period is open to August 12. For reclassification to be on the September agenda, the other commissioners would have to receive the chairman's proposal by August 26, giving the commissioners only two weeks to review the thousands of comments. Clearly, we need to make sure that they have that ability to review those comments from the public," Scalise said.

Reclassification is a controversial plan that would boost the agency's authority over Internet service providers. The FCC says it might need more power in order to protect consumers and expand Internet access to all Americans.