Congress to FCC: Not so fast on Net Neutrality

posted at 4:12 pm on May 25, 2010 by Ed Morrissey

FCC chair Julius Genachowski got an unpleasant surprise from what he must have previously considered a friendly Congress yesterday in response to his attempt to impose Net Neutrality through regulation rather than law.  One hundred eleven Representatives — 74 of them Democrats — signed two separate letters telling Genachowski that the FCC should not consider proceeding with new regulations without explicit direction from Congress.  Democrats worried about the impact on jobs, while Republicans called the regulatory thinking “19th-century”:

The Federal Communications Commission’s plan to impose Net neutrality regulations just became much more difficult to pull off.

A bipartisan group of politicians on Monday told FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski, in no uncertain terms, to abandon his plans to impose controversial new rules on broadband providers until the U.S. Congress changes the law.

Seventy-four House Democrats sent Genachowski, an Obama appointee and fellow Democrat, a letter saying his ideas will “jeopardize jobs” and “should not be done without additional direction from Congress.”

A separate letter from 37 Senate Republicans, also sent Monday, was more pointed. It accused Genachowski of pushing “heavy-handed 19th century regulations” that are “inconceivable” as well as illegal.

This amounts to approximately the last thing that any FCC chairman, at least one concerned with his future political prospects, wants to happen on his watch. Not only do Monday’s letters inject a new element of uncertainty into whether the FCC will try to repurpose analog telephone-era rules to target broadband providers, but they also sharply increase the likelihood of the process taking not many months but many years.

If Genachowski can’t deliver Net Neutrality regulation, he may not need to worry about his future political prospects.  His candidacy for the FCC appointment was championed by the Left and widely opposed by the Right on the basis of this particular agenda.  If Genachowski can’t deliver it with this Congress and President, don’t expect his allies to stick with him for another round of futility.

Republicans appear to be objecting on both practical and procedural grounds.  Genachowski tried to do what the EPA did with carbon dioxide, which was to reshuffle definitions in order to grant his panel jurisdiction over a large section of the modern economy.  Having agencies like the FCC attempt to bypass Congress should get this kind of reaction from elected officials, whose positions exist to pass laws in a representative-republic fashion in order to give the laws legitimacy.

Democrats seem less concerned with the arrogance that Genachowski’s strategy demonstrated than with the practical effects of allowing him to further harm job-creation prospects.  That, apparently, is territory that belongs to Democrats in Congress.

Declan McCullough expects Genachowski to retreat:

It’s also true that no FCC chairman ever starts a fight with Congress during the budgetary process unless there’s a very good reason, and preferably very good odds of winning. Genachowski’s private-sector experience as general counsel and chief of business operations for IAC/InterActiveCorp has presumably made him aware of when it’s time to cut your losses and change the topic. How about those new iPhone early termination fees, for instance?

Which means that, unless something unexpected happens, the fight over Net neutrality will shift a few blocks down Independence Avenue from the FCC to Capitol Hill.

That’s where the debate belongs.

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Democrats suddenly concerned about jobs???? Are we talking about government jobs that are threatened?

search4truth on May 25, 2010 at 4:15 PM

Let them go ahead and try.

And see what happens in November, 2010 and 2012.

molonlabe28 on May 25, 2010 at 4:16 PM

The democrats cannot sit back and let their leader’s incompetent administration destroy the freedoms we have fought for since our founding. To continuously vote unanimous for the breakdown of our country one piece at a time is un-American to say the least.

volsense on May 25, 2010 at 4:18 PM

Democrats are worried about job loss? November must really be on their minds.

shick on May 25, 2010 at 4:19 PM

But isn’t Genachowski a CZAR? You mean he can’t just ORDER things done?

Barry ain’t gonna be happy! $#%@ oil spill. Now THIS!

GarandFan on May 25, 2010 at 4:43 PM

Well it’s about freaking bloody time these doofuses stand their ground.

tru2tx on May 25, 2010 at 4:43 PM

Elena Kagan will not like that one bit.

Rae on May 25, 2010 at 4:44 PM

They’re only stopping Genachowski because they haven’t figured out how to sell “internet credits” that will put money directly into Dem congressmen’s pockets yet. Call AlGore. He’ll show you how it’s done.

Fishoutofwater on May 25, 2010 at 4:47 PM

It is quite amazing to see the progressives redefine ‘net neutrality’ from ISPs who slow delivery of high demand content unless fees are paid to the ISP from the content provider to requiring hyperlinks to points of view different from the web page owners being included in the web sites content.

Skandia Recluse on May 25, 2010 at 4:48 PM

molonlabe28 on May 25, 2010 at 4:16 PM

Are you telling me there isn’t enough stabbing in the eye, that we need this too to get a turn over? If we can’t get enough Americans awake with what has transpired already, God help us.

We want to stop this regime, we want Gridlock, absolute gridlock until we can get enough adults with common sense to reverse the damage progressives have done…don’t pray for more damage.

Conservative Voice on May 25, 2010 at 4:53 PM

The real reason there is bi-partsan opposition to Net Neutrality is because the Dems don’t want government to be in a position to regulate the porn,or deny them access to great people like Perez Hilton;whereas Republicans appreciate the First Ammendment and sources of relevent information.

DDT on May 25, 2010 at 4:57 PM

Obama, and his gang of warped thugs can all go to hell in a hand basket for all I care. I’m sick to death of their agenda, and destruction of this nation!!!

capejasmine on May 25, 2010 at 5:38 PM

Because if anyone is going to trample on liberties and have control over everyone and everything in the country, it is going to be CONgress!

Is The Consumer Protection Bill Just One Huge Governmental Subversion Of Privacy Ploy?

[…] In other news, communist, and other, dictators everywhere are now copying the US constitution and laws verbatim, in their own attempts to recreate the biggest centrally planned, communist regime ever seen.

Rae on May 25, 2010 at 5:56 PM

This is the first encouraging headline that I’ve come across in…well I don’t know, but a while. Net neutrality is nothing but a naked grab to seal the deal anf render all data flow into subjagation of gov approval. Despite all that is going on, this I think long term posed one of the greatest dangers to our republic yet. So being I do not expect this to end here, as we saw with the Supreme’s decision being ignored, this fight is not over. Not even close.

I used to think that bloggers claims of the dath knell of the MSM greatly overated, no longer. I was swayed when I started being able to predict breaking news on Fox by up tto 2 days or so from traffic on the net and emails rec’d from a cabal of fellow travellers I had garnered from threads like HA.

Now is not the time to let up on this issue, but rather the opening that must be seized to coordinate a barrage of outrage to congress, lest during one the looming crisis’s on the horizon provide cover to slip something by in yet another midnight session.

Archimedes on May 25, 2010 at 6:52 PM

Congrass to the FCC: “Hey, guys…cool it. You’re being too obvious!”

Dr. ZhivBlago on May 25, 2010 at 7:56 PM

sent a letter saying his ideas will “jeopardize THEIR jobs”

Pole-Cat on May 26, 2010 at 1:46 AM