Calling it regulatory overreach, Sen. (R.-Texas) Kay Bailey Hutchison of Wednesday asked Federal Communications Commission chairman Julius Genachowski to "stand down" from implementing net neutrality rules, or else.
The chairman signaled a vote on the rules late Tuesday night, releasing a tentative Dec. 21 meeting agenda with an item billed as "adopting basic rules of the road to preserve the open Internet as a platform for innovation, investment, competition, and free expression."
The chairman at the same time circulated the order to the other commissioners for their input. A source says, as expected, the item relies on existing Title I authority, rather than anticipating reclassifying broadband under Title II common carrier regs.
Hutchison had plenty of input. "I have not seen any evidence to date that would justify this regulatory overreach," she said in a statement. " In fact, the Internet has developed and thrived precisely because it has not been weighed down with burdensome government regulations."
"I am especially troubled that this action would occur without Congressional input and before the new members of Congress have been sworn in," she said. "The American people clearly repudiated this type of government expansion on November 2nd. FCC chairman Genachowski needs to stand down from his plans to impose onerous net neutrality restrictions."
And the "or else" part? "If he decides to move forward, I will explore all options available to keep the FCC from implementing regulations that will threaten the innovation and job creation opportunities associated with the Internet."
One move would be a rarely-used legislative maneuver to invalidate the rule. Sen. Byron Dorgan (D-N.D.) used it to try and block FCC media ownership rule changes, but did not succeed. Dorgan is all for the FCC's net neutrality regs, having signed on to a letter Tuesday encouraging the compromise approach. That letter was also signed by Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) chair of the Senate Communications Subcommittee, and Ron Wyden (D-Ore.).
Rep. Fred Upton (R-Mich.), former chair of the House Communications Subcommittee, has also said he would try and block an FCC net neutrality order, whether or not the FCC had the authority to do it.