The debate over net neutrality is heating up again this week, as Democrats in the Senate attempt to overturn new rules adopted by the Federal Communications Commission last year. The Restoring Internet Freedom Order, issued in December 2017, returned federal Internet regulation to the standard that existed before the Obama-era FCC implemented flawed and unnecessary net neutrality regulations in 2015. We at CEI believe going back to the pre-Obama rules is by far the smartest move, and thus are opposing the effort to repeal the Restoring Internet Freedom Order. The final vote on that effort will likely be taking place on the Senate floor next week. My colleague Jessica Melugin gives the short explanation of what all this means for consumers below.
The vehicle for potentially rolling back the Restoring Internet Freedom Order, which was championed by current FCC chairman Ajit Pai, is the Congressional Review Act, which allows Congress to effectively veto any regulation coming out of an executive agency with a joint resolution of disapproval. If passed by both houses of Congress and signed by president, such a resolution voids the regulation and stops the agency in question from implementing a similar rule in the future. Fifteen such resolutions have been approved during the 115th Congress.
If it would be unwise to use the Congressional Review Act to overturn the Restoring Internet Freedom Order, however, what should Congress be doing in regards to this hot button topic? For that answer we can look back to a recent panel event on Capitol Hill featuring analysis from Wayne Brough of FreedomWorks, Will Rinehart of American Action Forum, and CEI’s own Jessica Melugin and Ryan Radia. You can watch the discussion, of approximately 40 minutes, here.
Our friends at FreedomWorks are also producing several livestream interviews about different aspect of the net neutrality debate this week. Yesterday, associate director of CEI’s Center for Technology & Innovation Jessica Melugin sat down with FreedomWorks Director of Policy Patrick Hedger for the initial installment in their Day of Action campaign. Video of that interview, about 22 minutes, is here.
For more from Ryan Radia, see his OnPoint issue brief “Improving America’s Broadband through Competition, Not Regulation: Removing Existing Barriers to Broadband Deployment Will Help Consumers More than Federal Mandates.” Ryan argues that many of the long-term consumer benefits sought by fans of net neutrality regulation will be better accomplished by “reforming spectrum allocation and preempting excessive state and local barriers to broadband deployment.”