Kerry & Co. Defend Title II From Budget Threat

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A quartet of Democratic senators has asked the ranking member of the Senate Appropriations Committee not to try to block the Federal Communications Commission majority's effort to classify the transmission element of broadband as a Title II common carrier service.
At an appropriations hearing on the FCC's budget last week, Sen. Thad Cochran (R-Miss.) said he planned to try to block any appropriation that would be used to implement Title II reclassification.
Responding to that were John Kerry (Mass.), chairman of the Senate Communications Subcommittee; Ron Wyden (Ore.), Maria Cantwell (Wash.) and Tom Udall (N.M.).
"We are writing to oppose any effort to use the appropriations process to block the Federal Communications Commission  from using its existing legal authority to preserve an open Internet, protect consumers, and provide rural residents and Americans with disabilities with access to today's broadband Internet services," they wrote, according to a copy of the letter to Cochran and Committee chairman Daniel Inouye (D-Hawaii). "While the proper authorizing committees have announced efforts to update and clarify the law, it is the agency's responsibility to ensure it has the proper regulatory structure in place to execute its responsibilities under existing law. Preempting that process through an appropriations rider would be inappropriate."
The heads of the FCC's oversight committees have signaled they think it is time for an overhaul of the Communications Act in the face of a broadband explosion, but have also indicated that is not mean to preempt the FCC's effort to clarify its authority to regulate broadband access and issues like privacy, notice and transparency.
The FCC is scheduled to vote June 17 on a notice of inquiry proposing various responses to a Federal Appeals Court decision throwing out the FCC's crackdown on Comcast for blocking peer-to-peer file uploads by BitTorrent users. Those will include leaving broadband under the lightly regulated Title I regime and applying the full force of Title II regs to the Internet, plus FCC chairman Julius Genachwoski's so-called "third way" approach of applying a handful of Title II regs to broadband, while forbearing (not applying) the rest.