Hill Hollers On President's Title II Plan

Thune: Stale Thinking; Eshoo Enthuses
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Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.), ranking member of the Senate Commerce Committee and likely its new chairman in the next, Republican-controlled Senate, said Monday that the President's call for Title II regulation of the Internet would turn that medium into a "government regulated utility" and would "stifle" the sector with almost 80-year-old rules meant for traditional phone service.

He was joined by House Republican leaders in that appraisal. On the other side, energy & Commerce Committee ranking member Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) and the ranking member of the House Communications Subcommittee, Rep. Anna Eshoo (D-Calif.), were all for it.

"The president’s stale thinking would invite legal and marketplace uncertainty and perpetuate what has needlessly become a politically corrosive policy debate," Thune said in a statement.

“It is critical that the Internet remain open and that consumers are protected. As it crafts new rules, the FCC should recognize the benefits of its highly successful light-touch regulatory approach to Internet policy, and, most importantly, the FCC must follow the law.”

Energy and Commerce Committee chairman Fred Upton (R-Mich.), Communications and Technology Subcommittee chairman Greg Walden (R-Ore.), and vice chairman Bob Latta (R-Ohio), were one "troubled" trio.

"We are extremely troubled and disappointed by the president’s urging the FCC to regulate the Internet as a utility under Title II of the Communications Act. Today’s announcement is just the latest in a long line of decisions that reveal this administration simply doesn’t know how to grow the economy. Sadly, it appears the president is abandoning the successful hands-off policy of his Republican and Democratic predecessors in favor of centrally controlled Internet policy. This is a mistake."

Eshoo and Waxman could hardly have disagreed more.

"The President’s statement today recognizes once again the guiding tenets of a free and open Internet," said Eshoo. "His endorsement of a sound legal approach to open Internet rules will continue the success of the Internet. I strongly urge the FCC to adopt the President’s approach.”

Waxman was thrilled.

"“Today is a great day for the Internet," he said.“The President is showing true leadership. He has given strong, unequivocal support for robust open Internet protections. And he has made it clear that he stands with consumers and the public, not the cable and phone companies that could profit by turning the Internet into slow and fast lanes."

But Waxman also suported giving the the FCC some room--and a little more time--to figure out its next move--new rules are unlikely to come before early next year.

“The FCC is right to make sure it has the record it needs to act, but any delay for additional examination should be short," he said. "The FCC should now move expeditiously to complete the rulemaking and establish the bright-line rules against blocking, throttling, and paid prioritization that define a free and open Internet.”

Hill reaction continued to file in as the day wore on.

Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.), said the President was "going after" the broadband sector and reminded the FCC who was boss.

“Last week, voters across the country rejected the president’s regulatory policies that have made this economic recovery the weakest in more than half a century," Johnson said in a statment. "Ignoring this, today the president has decided to go after one sector of our economy that has continued to flourish: the Internet.

"Treating the dynamic Internet like a government-regulated utility will stall investment and innovation and inject uncertainty into the market through burdensome rules and legal challenges. As a member of the Senate Commerce Committee with direct oversight over the FCC, I strongly oppose reclassifying the Internet under Title II of the Communications Act and will remind the FCC that as an independent agency, it answers to Congress, not the White House.”

House Oversight Committee Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) said the FCC should not bow to poltiical pressure.

“President Obama’s decision to put political pressure on the Federal Communications Commission to regulate the Internet is bad for American consumers, would stifle economic growth, and would open the pathway for unnecessary government interference. The Internet’s revolutionary success is due in large part to an entrepreneurialism that adapts and innovates freely as the Internet evolves. A free and open Internet allows Americans to operate their small businesses, communicate freely, and stay competitive in a changing global economy. Instead of bowing to political pressure from the President, the FCC should take into account the strong bipartisan support for keeping the Internet free and open.”