Rep. Marsha Blackburn: ‘I Will Take the Lead’ in Defunding Net Neutrality

By Rudy Takala | May 28, 2015 | 2:09pm EDT
Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN), vice chair of the House Energy and Commerce Committee. (AP photo)

(CNSNews.com) – Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) says she will “take the lead" in congressional efforts to defund the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC)  net neutrality order using the appropriations process.

 

Blackburn is the first member of Congress to publicly express her willingness to block implementation of the new FCC rule that reclassifies the Internet as a public utility.

 

“We know that President Obama’s plan to take over the Internet was written by liberal activists behind closed doors at the White House and will result in up to $11 billion in new fees and taxes for hard working Americans,” Blackburn said in a statement to CNSNews.com. “It will lead to regulatory uncertainty and be tied up in the court system for years, where the Administration is already 0-2 on this issue.

 

“The Internet has thrived with a light regulatory touch. Title II reclassification of the Internet is the regulatory nuclear option and will have disastrous consequences,” Blackburn concluded.

 

Blackburn, the vice chair of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, has been a vocal opponent of the Open Internet Order passed by the FCC in February that is set to go into effect June 12.  She also sits on the Energy and Commerce subcommittee tasked with devising an appropriations bill to fund the FCC.

 

This would not be the first time that the House has voted to defund net neutrality rules. The chamber voted to defund a previous incarnation of the rules in 2011, but ultimately had its efforts thwarted by Senate Democrats. However, that earlier version was later struck down by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit in Verizon Communications Inc. v. FCC (2014).

 

The new version of the rules reclassify Internet providers as Title II utilities along the lines of telephone service providers and open Internet service up to new fees. Advocates say the rules will prevent Internet providers from blocking or throttling online traffic.

 

But FCC Commissioner Ajit Pai, who dissented from the agency’s 3-2 net neutrality decision, has repeatedly called on Congress to strip the FCC of funding for enforcement.

 

Pai said the rules could cause the FCC to become the “Department of the Internet,” giving it the power not only to impose new fees on Internet service but ultimately to regulate what consumers are allowed to view online.

 

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