Fresh off their increased majorities in Congress, the GOP is setting its sights in the FCC controversial net neutrality rules as its next target. Forty Republican senators led by Commerce committee ranking member Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchinson of Texas as well as two Republican House members are spearheading a repeal effort.
The Congressional Review Act, passed in 1996, allows Congress to review the rulemakings of government agencies and overturn them if need be. Of course since this is a legislative procedure, any effort would require President Obama’s signature or lacking that a two-thirds majority in either legislative body to override a veto.
Since Democrats are by and large in favor of regulation, and the party holds a majority of the Senate, the resolution is likely to die on the Senate floor before reaching the President’s desk. One thing does work in the GOP’s favor there — resolutions brought up under this act are considered “privileged,” meaning only 30 signatures will force a vote.
So far, Hutchison’s effort has 40.
Reps. Fred Upton (R-Mich.) and Greg Walden (R-Ore.) held hearings Wednesday to question the FCC commissioners on the rules. When the FCC passed the rules in December, it was a split vote at 3-2 in favor. Thus the responses of the commissioners to the Representatives’ queries were likely as varied.
“From the Internet’s inception we have taken a hands-off approach,” Walden said in a statement. “Changing direction now will only harm innovation and the economy.” He urged fellow Senate and House members to join his and Upton’s effort to overturn the new policies.
There are other efforts to either overturn or change the FCC’s policies in both Congress and the courts. Most notably, Verizon sued the FCC last month challenging the FCC’s authority to regulate the Internet. Some Democrats aren’t exactly 100% happy with the polices as is now, Senators Maria Cantwell and Al Franken introduced a bill to strengthen them.