GOP Leaders Ask FCC To Publicize Draft Net Rules

Say Given Importance of Decision, That's Right Way to Go

The Republican leadership of the House Energy & Commerce Committee and Senate Commerce Committee have called on FCC chairman Tom Wheeler to release a draft of new open Internet rules before a scheduled Feb. 26 vote.

In network neutrality hearings in the House and Senate this week, those same leaders suggested one advantage of congressional action--they have proposed a bill to clarify FCC authority over Internet access, is that it was on the table for everyone to check out.

The request to see the draft, which the chairman has said will circulate to the other commissioners Feb. 5 per custom, came in a letter Thursday (Jan. 22) to the chairman ( from House Energy & Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-Mich.), Communications Subcommittee Chairman Greg Walden (R-Ore.), and Senate Commerce Committee chairman John Thune (R-S.D.).

"“Given the significance of the matter and the strong public participation in the commission’s proceeding to date, we believe the public and industry stakeholders alike should have the opportunity to review the text of any proposed order or rules prior to commission action," they wrote. "Accordingly, we urge you to publicly release the draft text of the Open Internet Order when you circulate it to your fellow commissioners."

Most witnesses at the net neutrality hearings indicated they did know what was going to be in the draft, though a couple of net neutrality advocates indicated they had an inkling.

Getting the FCC to publish texts of its orders and rulemaking proposals before they are adopted has been one of the FCC process reforms pushed by the Republican leaders.