WASHINGTON – In the wake of the Federal Communications Commission’s vote to approve the strongest ever net neutrality rules, Republican lawmakers are taking aim at the agency itself.
“What the FCC did last week is ill-advised, illogical and illegal,” said Rep. Greg Walden, R-Ore., at the conservative American Enterprise Institute on Monday. “It is a classic Washington top-down regulatory overreach.”
Net neutrality requires Internet service providers to treat all online traffic equally so that providers can’t charge for faster speeds. The commissioners voted on Thursday to reclassify broadband as a public utility, giving the agency more regulatory power over ISPs.
Net neutrality supporters have been waiting for the FCC to take this stance since the agency’s weaker Internet rules were struck down by a federal court in January 2014.
But Walden is among many Republicans who have criticized the FCC’s plan since it was announced in early February. He said the reclassification of broadband applies “Depression-era utility regulation to the vibrant Internet economy.”
“You cannot reform regulation without reforming the regulator,” Walden said. “For too long the FCC has been left to its own devices.”
The House Communications and Technology Subcommittee, chaired by Walden, will hold a hearing on the FCC’s proposed 2016 budget on Wednesday. The agency has requested $388 million, much of which would go to relocating its headquarters.
Walden said the subcommittee will “take a hard look at the agency before Congress hands over another appropriation.”
The FCC did not immediately respond to request for comment.