House Passes Resolution Disapproving of Net Neutrality Rules

The House of Representatives passed Joint Resolution 37 on April 15, 2011, expressing disapproval of the net neutrality rules the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) adopted last December. The resolution – along with a similar one pending in the Senate – marks the latest chapter in an ongoing Congressional debate over government regulation of consumer internet access. Rep. Greg Walden (R-OR), Chair of the Subcommittee on Communications and Technology and sponsor of the House resolution, characterized the FCC net neutrality rules as a "power grab" by the Commission. He questioned the FCC's authority to regulate the Internet under the 1996 Telecommunications Act and criticized the FCC's failure to conduct market power analysis before promulgating the rule. Rep. Fred Upton (R-MI) suggested that the Internet "has remained a thriving, competitive, and innovative marketplace because the government has kept its hand off," and argued that Congress needed to "put the brakes on runaway bureaucracy." Democrats claimed the bill "will end the Internet as we know it" and accused Republicans of allowing big phone and cable companies to "control what Web sites Americans can visit, what applications they can run, and what devices they can use." Even if a similar resolution passes in the Senate, President Obama has threatened to veto it. Nevertheless, H.J. Res. 37 provides a clear statement of Congressional Republicans' staunch opposition to the FCC's rule, and suggests that the future of net neutrality regulation by the FCC may well still be affected by the outcome of the 2012 election.

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