FCC chairman declines to testify ahead of net neutrality vote

The House Oversight Committee has postponed a hearing to explore whether the White House exerted improper influence on the Federal Communications Commission’s development of net neutrality rules. 

The announcement came after FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler declined to testify at Wednesday’s hearing, which would have come a day ahead of the commission’s vote on the new regulations. 

{mosads}Wheeler has agreed to testify at a later date, according to the FCC. 

Oversight Chairman Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) and House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-Mich.) said they were “deeply disappointed” in Wheeler’s decision but promised that their investigation would continue. 

“So long as the chairman continues to insist on secrecy, we will continue calling for more transparency and accountability at the commission,” they said. “Chairman Wheeler and the FCC are not above Congress. This fight continues as the future of the Internet is at stake.”

The Energy and Commerce Committee is going ahead with its hearing Wednesday exploring the “uncertain future of the Internet” due to the regulations. Republicans are expected to use the hearing as another opportunity to pan Wheeler’s proposal ahead of the commission’s vote.  

The FCC will vote Thursday on rules to reclassify broadband Internet as a telecommunications service, a designation that gives the commission more authority to enforce its open Internet rules. 

The rules are meant to prevent Internet service providers from blocking or slowing traffic to any website while also preventing companies from negotiating deals for priority access. 

The proposal has support among Democrats, advocates and a number of technology companies. Republicans and Internet service providers have been the most vocal opponents, arguing it would impose outdated regulations that could stall investment and raise fees on consumers. 

A number of groups have vowed to challenge the proposal in court. 

Tags Federal Communications Commission Fred Upton House Oversight Committee Jason Chaffetz Net neutrality Tom Wheeler

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