FCC head agrees to testify to Oversight on White House influence

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Amid heated allegations that he has allowed his agency to be a puppet for the White House, the head of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has agreed to testify before the House Oversight Committee next month.

Tom Wheeler, who initially declined to appear before the panel this week, will testify on the morning of March 17, committee spokeswoman M.J. Henshaw said.

{mosads}Wheeler is also scheduled to testify along with his four fellow commissioners the following day in the Senate Commerce Committee. 

Unlike that session, however, which will focus on general oversight and the FCC’s new net neutrality rules, the House panel will focus specifically on whether or not the legally independent agency has had an inappropriate relationship with the White House.

Conservatives have accused President Obama of meddling in the agency’s process during recent high-profile work on net neutrality rules, which were approved on a party-line vote on Thursday. Obama released a major YouTube video last November urging the commission to issue the rules, and The Wall Street Journal has reported about a covert effort at the White House to push for strong regulations.

Wheeler has insisted that he came up with the broad outlines of his plan months before the president weighed in.

“I’m quite comfortable that we made this decision with independence and wisdom and based on the record,” he said on Thursday. 

When he declined to appear before the Oversight Committee this week, Wheeler said that he would be happy to appear at a later date.

Still, Republicans have continued to accuse him of using the commission’s longstanding rules to operate behind a veil of secrecy. 

Tags Net neutrality Network neutrality Tom Wheeler

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