POLITICS: PennAve

Net neutrality ruling cheered by congressional Republicans

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Congressional Republicans applauded a decision Tuesday by a federal appeals court that overturned Federal Communications Commission regulations known as “net neutrality.”

The FCC rules, passed in 2010, barred Internet providers from discriminating against or prioritizing certain types of web content. The suit was brought by Verizon Communications, which claimed the FCC lacked the requisite authority to levy the regulations.

“We are pleased the D.C. Circuit … recognized that traditional monopoly-era telecommunications regulation does not apply to the modern, competitive, and open Internet,” said Republican Sens. John Thune of South Dakota, who serves as ranking member of the Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, and Roger Wicker of Mississippi.

“We have consistently said the Obama Administration’s FCC exceeded its legal authority by imposing unnecessary and unjustified net neutrality regulations,” the two senators said in a statement.

On the House side, Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., who chairs the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, took a similar tack.

“I agree with the decision overruling the FCC’s flawed reasoning on net neutrality,” Issa said in a statement. “The last thing we need is ill-conceived and shortsighted regulation that restricts its continued growth.”

Illustrating the partisan split on the issue, several congressional Democrats released statements blasting the decision of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia.

“We must ensure that as the Internet continues to evolve, it remains a level playing field guided by the principles of openness and competition,” said Sen. Ed Markey, D-Mass, in a statement, attributing the growth of the Internet to its “nondiscriminatory and open nature.”

Markey said he plans to introduce legislation in the coming days to make clear the FCC’s authority to oversee broadband networks and intervene “to preserve competition and safeguard consumers.”

Sen. Jay Rockefeller IV, D-W.Va., who chairs the Senate Commerce Committee, took a slightly more optimistic view of the court’s ruling.

“Although I am disappointed that the court did not unequivocally uphold the FCC’s net neutrality protections, I am pleased that the court recognized that the FCC has the authority to issue necessary consumer protection rules for broadband networks,” the five-term senator said in a statement.

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