Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN), a longtime advocate of Internet freedom, said she’s undaunted by the Federal Communications Commission’s decision to adopt net neutrality rules. Instead, she thinks the FCC’s action will be a catalyst for renewed commitment on the issue in the 112th Congress.
“What we will do is first use this as a way to show how we’re going to keep that Pledge to America,” she said yesterday at The Heritage Foundation. “We said in the Pledge that any rule or regulation that had more than $100 million impact on our nation’s economy would be subject to review. … This is an area where we can keep that Pledge. We can go ahead and start congressional review and move forward on getting this off the books.”
Blackburn was speaking at The Bloggers Briefing as the FCC debated the net neutrality rules. When the 112th Congress convenes on Jan. 5, Blackburn said she will reintroduce her bill to block the FCC from implementing the regulations and force the issue back to Congress.
“We’ve had bipartisan agreement on this, that the FCC should not take this action, that we, as members of Congress, should be the ones that are there to take that action or any action that should be done,” she said.
Of course, in this case, that “action” might be no action at all. After all, discontent with Internet service providers has not exactly been widespread. On the contrary, Blackburn said: Most people have been pleased with the access they’ve received from providers like AT&T, Verizon and Comcast.
“Our action is to make sure that the Internet remains unencumbered and does not have the FCC with a chokehold on it,” she said. “We are moving from an industrial, manufacturing, technology-based economy to a creative economy … and the creative economy depends on an unencumbered Internet.”
FCC intrusion would mean just the opposite — an Internet of interference and obstacles.
“What the FCC would do today is to implement the Fairness Doctrine for the Internet and force people to come to them,” Blackburn said. “They would have the determination of what could be innovated. They would have the determination of what should be the priority and value assigned to all the content that is traveling. So, we’re watching it very closely. We’re going to continue to do so as they go through the rule-making process and, then, come Jan. 5, you’re going to see us vigorously opposing this.”
That vigorous opposition will include a lack of funding if necessary, Blackburn said.
“That goes without saying,” she said. “We’re going to have numerous amendments to defund plenty of things in the House to keep money from going where they would like for money to be going, whether it is health care, whether it is the FCC, whether it is the EPA implementing cap-and-trade under the Clean Air Act. You’re going to see a series of amendments that would defund those activities that we view as being harmful to free enterprise and the American people.”