Opponent of Net Neutrality Rules Vows to Rein in FCC

Rep. Greg Walden says FCC lacks authority to set net neutrality rule

The sponsor of the resolution to strike down the Federal Communication Commission’s net neutrality rule said on Wednesday that his efforts to rein in the FCC will not stop there.

“The FCC is a creation of the Congress,” Rep. Greg Walden (R-Oregon) told members of the American Cable Association. “I think that the responsibility lies with Congress to say you don’t have the ability to do what you do.”

Walden (above; photo by Kenneth Wajda), who is the chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Communications and Technology subcommittee, says he will seek improvements for the agency.

“I think commissioners from both parties agree that the process can be improved,” Walden said. “We can create a more open and transparent process rather than announcing rules, building a case and losing in court.”

Last week, House Democrats criticized Republicans for taking time from working on the budget impasse to consider a resolution designed to block the rule’s implementation. The bill, based largely based on the premise that the FCC doesn't have the authority to regulate the Internet, passed the House along party lines Friday with a vote of 240 to 179.

Proponents of the net neutrality say it prevents large cable and telephone companies operators like Verizon, AT&T and Comcast from having a monopoly over access to the Internet. 

“Without regulation, they can choke off innovation by charging for the right to communicate with their customers,” Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.), ranking member of the Committee on Energy and Commerce, said during the debate.    

ACA president Matt Polka said the group's membership has not taken a position on the resolution of disapproval. ACA plans to “work with the FCC on the rule,” Polka said in a news briefing.

The group's membership is composed of almost 900 small and medium-sized independent operators serving smaller markets and rural areas.

The FCC adopted the net neutrality rule in December. A month later, Verizon filed an appeal that claimed the FCC didn't have the authority to do so. Last week, a D.C. court dismissed the appeal because the rule hasn’t been published in the Federal Register.

Google, Facebook, Amazon, Netflix, eBay and other companies that make up the Open Internet Coalition support the rule.

Walden, a former radio station group owner who represents Oregon's second congressional district, thanked ACA membership for coming to Washington to discuss its public policy concerns with lawmakers.

The ACA also received assurances from FCC Commissioner Mignon Clyburn that she would monitor efforts to extract excessive carriage fees from small cable operators.

“[Y]ou can count on me to be a cop on the beat with regard to monitoring the compliance of those conditions,” Clyburn told ACA.