The Federal Communications Commission is planning to vote on new network neutrality rules in February, and one of the viable options on the table is re-classifying broadband internet as a type of public utility, like telephone companies. President Obama openly supports that plan, and congressional Republicans are signaling that they will do everything in their power to thwart the FCC if it goes this route, The Wall Street Journal reports.
These legislative attempts — a bill blocking re-classifying broadband, cutting funding for the FCC, a law to nullify the FCC rule — are likely to fail so long as Obama has the veto pen. So expect a court challenge and a lot of hearings where Republicans grill FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler. The public generally supports net neutrality, depending on how it's explained, so expect a battle of talking points as well.
"The regulatory tools at the FCC's disposal are outdated and its previous efforts to create rules to regulate the internet were struck down by the courts," notes Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.) in a statement. "It's hard to imagine that its new attempt will escape legal challenges and avoid the kind of regulatory uncertainty that harms internet innovation and investment." That point about previous attempts being struck down is true — and the door the courts left open was re-classifying the internet.