Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) Wednesday filed her Internet Freedom Act as her first order of business in the new, Republican-controlled House of Representatives.
The bill, which has more than 60 co-signers including the majority of Republican members of the House, would invalidate the Federal Communications Commission's network neutrality regs, which a 3-2 Democratic majority approved Dec. 21 in the face of promises by Blackburn and others that they would try to block it legislatively.
"The FCC's Christmas week Internet grab points out how important it is that we pass this bill quickly," she said in announcing the bill. "The only sector of our economy showing growth is online. In these times, for an unelected bureaucracy with dubious jurisdiction and misplaced motives to unilaterally regulate that growth is intolerable. The Internet is more than a communications platform with modems, fiber, and e-mail. It is a marketplace; one that should be kept free."
Blackburn recognizes that getting such a bill through Congress will take time. She called it an intermediate step, and backed the more immediate move of invoking the Congressional Review Act.
The FCC regs are not yet in effect, and won't be for at least a couple more months since the FCC has set a trigger of 60 days after the rules get the OK from OMB that they do not run afoul of the Paperwork Reduction Act, which has yet to happen.
Blackburn, a long-standing and strong critic of net neutrality regs, filed a similar bill not long after the FCC voted last October to launch the rulemaking to expand and codify its network neutrality guidelines.
Last month, she joined with incoming House Energy & Commerce Committee leadership to pledge to fight the net neutrality rules by whatever means necessary.
Blackburn, who has compared the FCC to a lifeblood-sucking vampire at the throat of the Internet, said at the time she would be reintroducing her bill, which came on the first day of the new Congress.
At the December press conference, the Republican leaders said they would explore at least three ways to block implementation of the order: legislation (Blackburn's, for example), defunding the FCC appropriation, or a special congressional resolution that would nullify the rules. "We are going to explore every option to try and reverse this order," said Rep. Fred Upton (R-Mich.) now the chairman of the powerful House Energy & Commerce Committee. "This will be the first hearing out of the box," in the next Congress, he said, with a series of hearings to follow over the next several weeks. "There is going to be no stone unturned."