by Matthew L. Schafer
On Wednesday, a House of Representatives’ Energy and Commerce Committee Communications’ subcommittee passed a joint resolution disapproving of the Federal Communications Commission rules regarding net neutrality with a 15 to 8 vote.
The FCC passed the rules last December, which laid down rules for Internet service providers, including transparency, no blocking, no unreasonable discrimination, and reasonable network management. The resolution passed after a second hearing to discuss the rules was held on Wednesday.
The joint resolution, which essentially has a similar legislative function to a bill, requires a simple majority in both the House and the Senate, and the President’s signature. If the resolution makes it past these barriers, it would repeal the FCC’s new rules.
“Resolved by the Senate and the House… that Congress disapproves the rule submitted by the Federal Communications Commission relating to the matter of preserving the open Internet and broadband industry practices, and such rule shall have no force or effect,” the joint resolution reads.
The resolution comes as a congressional power under the 1996 Congressional Review Act, which mandates that any agency passing a rule covered by the Act submit the rule to Congress for review. Congress may then express disapproval of administrative agencies’ policies in an faster than normal manner.
Despite FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski’s effort to assuage both sides of the heated net neutrality debate, the plan for new rules governing the Internet sat sourly for both public interest groups and politicians.
“The FCC is creeping further into the free market by trying to regulate the Internet,” Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) recently said. “The last thing we need is the FCC serving as Internet traffic controller.”
The Hill recently acquired a House Democrats’ memo, which lamented that the passing of such a resolution would be unfortunate, because of “broad agreement on certain aspects of the FCC’s rules, such as the need for transparency, the prohibition on blocking of lawful content, and the right to exercise reasonable network management.”
In spite of the move to block the FCC’s rules, those close to the industry doubt that the resolution will earn President Obama’s signature, and will fail to go into effect. Nonetheless, this marks yet another black-eye from Republicans for the already battered net neutrality rules.
In February, Republicans also attempted to stop the FCC from enforcing its new rules of the road by amending the recent budget bill to prevent net neutrality funding. The amendment, which passed after a 244-181 vote, would “prohibit the use of funds used to implement the Report and Order of the [FCC] relating to the matter of preserving the open Internet.”