GOP introduces bill to block Internet rules


Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) and 19 other Republicans are backing legislation to block the Federal Communications Commission’s new rules on net neutrality. 

Blackburn’s two-page bill, introduced Tuesday, would make sure that the FCC’s regulations approved last week would have “no force of effect.” It would also restrict the commission from approving any new regulations that are substantially similar, unless Congress first authorized it. 

{mosads}The bill’s 19 co-sponsors include most of the Republicans on the Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Communications and Technology, which has jurisdiction over the agency. That includes Rep. Bob Latta (R-Ohio), vice chairman of the subcommittee. 

“My legislation will put the brakes on this FCC overreach and protect our innovators from these job-killing regulations,” Blackburn said in a statement. 

Noticeably absent are the subpanel’s chairman, Rep. Greg Walden (R-Ore.), and full Committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-Mich.). House Majority Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.), also a member of the subcommittee, was one of the few that did not sign on to the bill. 

Upton, Walden and their counterparts on the Senate Commerce Committee are focusing instead on convincing Democrats to back an alternate compromise bill. They have yet to formally introduce the proposal.  

They have floated a draft legislation, which would similarly restrict the FCC from reclassifying broadband Internet as a telecommunications service, which would allow heavier regulation than its current designation of an information service. The draft would also limit another piece of the FCC’s authority.

As an olive branch to Democrats, their bill would also implement a number of net neutrality principles that advocates have supported, including restrictions on blocking, throttling and paid prioritization. Blackburn’s bill does not address those principles.   

A representative for Walden reiterated that the chairman is interested in finding a “bipartisan” agreement. Walden has said he is waiting to introduce the draft bill until after the FCC rules come out. 

The Walden aide disputed the idea broad Republican support for Blackburn’s bill could dissuade Democrats from crossing over to support the chairman’s compromise legislation.

Commerce panel leaders have had no luck so far convincing a Democrat to back their draft proposal. Most expressed pleasure with the FCC’s vote and have said the GOP legislation would go too far in restricting the agency’s authority.

Another group of Republicans have proposed using the Congressional Review Act to roll back the rules. The CRA allows Congress to block a rule through a resolution of disapproval. The resolution cannot be filibustered and would only require a majority vote in the Senate to win approval. 

Tags Congressional Review Act Federal Communications Commission Marsha Blackburn Net neutrality

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