Greene, Upton Want Congress To Weigh In Before FCC Reclassifiies Broadband


Reps. Gene Green (D-Tex.) and Fred Upton (R-Mich.) have introduced a concurrent resolution asking the FCC to hold off on reclassifying broadband or clarifying and expanding network neutrality regs and let the Congress weigh in first.

The resolution "directs the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to wait for Congress to enact a law prior to issuing rules, regulations, or orders concerning additional regulation of broadband internet service."

They have 46 co-sponsors, but a majority of House members have already expressed at least concerns about FCC chairman Julius Genachowski's "third way" plan to reclassify the transmission portion of broadband access as a Title II common carrier service, while not applying most of the regs that apply under that regime to telecommunications services.

They point out that legislators are still trying to craft a targeted bill aimed at clarifying the FCC's broadcast regulatory powers. Stakeholders have also been hosted at the FCC for talks about a possible legislative solution, but nothing on that front yet.

"If the FCC continues its pursuit of reclassification, the result will be lengthy court battles that will reduce, or even halt, capital investments and effectively cease the improvement and expansion of access to the unserved and underserved areas of the country while eliminating much-needed jobs across the country," said Green in a statement.

The FCC does not plan to issue new regulations if it goes the "third way," instead just issuing a declaratory ruling and at the same time forbearing (saying it will not apply) most of the Title II regs.

Even if it passed, the resolution does not get the president's signature and does not have the force of law. But if the FCC were looking for guidance from Congress on what it should do, that would arguably qualify.

The FCC has already been apprised of the sensibilities of former House Energy & Commerce Committee chairman John Dingell (D-Mich.), who told the chairman in no uncertain terms this week he thought FCC action without congressional direction would be a mistake.