Rep. Greg Walden to FCC on government control of the Internet: Not so fast

by John in Oregon

Last December under cover of the approaching holidays and the spectacle of the lame duck congress, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) defied a federal court and enacted an Internet regulatory takeover.  The rule, with the deceptive name of Net Neutrality, injects U.S. government regulation and control into the operation of Internet for the first time.

The FCC may have been blinded by the conventional wisdom that Americans would be too busy with Christmas shopping and the legacy media too distracted with lame duck news to notice.  Conventional wisdom bet wrong.  The House of Representatives has begun the process to block the FCC Net Regulation rule.  Oregon Rep. Greg Walden and the House Energy and Commerce Communications and Technology Subcommittee is preparing a resolution to nullify the FCC rule.

As reported in the Washington Times, speaking of the threat last Sunday House Speaker Boehner said;

“We see this threat in how the FCC is creeping further into the free market by trying to regulate the Internet”

“The last thing we need, in my view, is the FCC serving as Internet traffic controller”

In other media reports, Oregon Representative Greg Walden is moving forward to block the regulation;

The Speaker’s view seems to be shared by Republican members of the House Energy and Commerce Communications and Technology Subcommittee, led by Rep. Greg Walden (R-Ore.). That panel is set to vote tomorrow [Wednesday] on a “resolution of disapproval” of the FCC’s regulations

A copy of the Resolution of Disapproval may be found here. As background, a Resolution of Disapproval using the Congressional Review Act receives expedited treatment in the Senate.  The resolution overturning the FCC network-neutrality order cannot be blocked by Majority Leader Reed in the Senate and just 30 senators can force a floor vote that would require just 51 votes to pass.

Overturning the FCC take over would require just four Democratic senators to join Republicans.  In any case the vote would force all Senators to take a public position on Government control of the Internet, a subject prominently in the news in Egypt, Tunisia and China.

The FCC action is part of a growing trend of Administration Executive Agencies ignoring court rulings.  A federal appeals court ruled on April 6, 2011 that the Federal Communications Commission lacks the legal authority to enforce its “network neutrality” principles.  Legal action continues in a January 20 case filed in the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, challenging the Federal Communications Commission’s Report and Order.

In other legal actions last June Federal Judge Martin Feldman dealt the White House a blow, striking down a moratorium on deepwater drilling.

Last Feburary 3rd Bloomberg reported Judge Feldman ruled Interior Secretary Kenneth Salazar’s department in contempt of court.

The Obama Administration acted in contempt by continuing its deepwater-drilling moratorium after the policy was struck down, a New Orleans judge ruled.

Interior Department regulators acted with “determined disregard” by lifting and reinstituting a series of policy changes that restricted offshore drilling, following the worst offshore oil spill in U.S. history, U.S. District Judge, Martin Feldman of New Orleans ruled yesterday.

More recently Judge Feldman has ordered the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement (BOEMRE) to act on five pending permits within 30 days, and to report on its progress to the court.

Rep. Walden’s resolution of disapproval of the FCC ruling is the first Congressional action to rein in bureaucratic overreach during the current Administration.


UPDATE. The Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Communications and Technology has reschedule a vote on a resolution to reverse the Federal Communications Commission’s controversial Internet regulations.  The new time of the vote will be announced.