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House Dems accuse GOP of trying to 'shield' FCC's net neutrality repeal from oversight

House Dems accuse GOP of trying to 'shield' FCC's net neutrality repeal from oversight
© Greg Nash

Top House Energy and Commerce Committee Democrats on Wednesday rebuked their GOP colleagues for failing to hold any oversight hearings of the Federal Communications Commission this year amid the FCC's efforts to strike net neutrality regulations.

Rep. Frank Pallone Jr. (N.J.), the ranking member on the committee, and Rep. Mike Doyle (Pa.), the top Democrat on the technology subcommittee, suggested in a letter that House Republicans are trying to “shield the FCC from having to explain its push to install such unpopular policies,” like the repeal of net neutrality rules.

“This Committee has an obligation to perform oversight on behalf of the American people and ensure that the American people understand the consequences of the FCC’s actions,” they wrote in the letter to Reps. Greg Walden (R-Ore.) and Marsha BlackburnMarsha BlackburnColbert asks Republicans 'have you had enough?' in live show after Capitol violence Congress rejects challenge to Arizona's presidential vote LIVE COVERAGE: Congress certifies Biden win after Pennsylvania, Arizona challenges fail MORE (R-Tenn.).

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The three sitting FCC commissioners have yet to appear before the House panel this year, and Walden and Blackburn have not revealed when they’ll have to face questions. According to Pallone and Doyle, Republicans last month that an oversight hearing will be held by the end of the July.

“This hearing could not come too soon considering the FCC has not appeared before the Committee — or any House committee — to testify a single time this year,” they wrote. “That stands in stark contrast to the Chairman of the FCC under President Obama testifying on Capitol Hill eight times by the end of July last Congress, including six times in front of House committees."

The Republicans pushed back, accusing Pallone and Doyle of "political grandstanding" with their letter.

“As the letter noted, we have been working closely with the minority to determine an opportunity for the FCC commissioners to testify before the committee later this month," Zach Hunter, a spokesman for Walden, told The Hill. "While an exact date has yet to be finalized, the minority is fully aware of our efforts, making today’s letter little more than political grandstanding. We will continue in our efforts to collaborate with them as we finalize details for this hearing."

FCC Chairman Ajit Pai is currently pushing through a repeal of the agency’s net neutrality rules, which were passed under the Obama administration and are universally supported among Democrats.