House Oversight Postpones FCC Hearing

Cites Chairman Wheeler's Decision Not to Appear

The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee postponed a scheduled Feb. 25 hearing on the relationship between the Federal Communications Commission and the White House after FCC chairman Tom Wheeler said he was unable to testify.

“We are deeply disappointed in chairman Wheeler’s decision,"committee chairman Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) and Rep. Fred Upton (R-Mich.), chair of the House Energy & Commerce Committee, said in a joint statement; Upton's committee has principal jurisdiction over FCC matters.

"As chairman Wheeler pushes forward with plans to regulate the Internet, he still refuses to directly answer growing concerns about how the rules were developed, how they are structured and how they will stand up to judicial scrutiny," they added. "After hearing from over four million Americans on such an important topic to our economic and cultural future, it's striking that when Congress seeks transparency, chairman Wheeler opts against it. The last time a rule of this magnitude was voted on by the FCC, then-Senator Obama was motivated to call for transparency at the commission. We continue that call today."

Wheeler declined to grant Republicans' request that he make public the draft language of the Open Internet order before the planned Feb. 26 vote. Wheeler said it would be inappropriate to change procedure and precedent without giving the public and all commissioners time to weigh in on such a decision. The Republican commissioners both said they wanted the draft published.

Meanwhile, the Communications Subcommittee of the House Energy & Commerce Committee planned to proceed with its Feb. 25 hearing on net neutrality, but Wheeler was not on that witness list, which did not focus on the FCC's perspective.