After Net Neutrality Rules Are Published, Congressional Republicans Take A Stand

Congressional Republicans are following through on their promise to oppose the Federal Communication Commission’s net neutrality order.

Since the commission first publicized its rules earlier this year, Rep. Doug Collins of Georgia has said that he would dissent the agency’s rulemaking. Today, when the rules were published in the Federal Registry and became fair game for lawsuits, Collins released that resolution.

The resolution’s text is very simple: Congress disapproves of the net neutrality ruling, and the rule “should have no force or effect.” According to Collins’s office, the resolution could cancel the net neutrality rules if it receives the vote of the Senate majority under special procedural voting rules.

In an interview with TechCrunch, Collins said the resolution was not about the substance of the net neutrality debate. It’s about where that debate is occurring.

“This needs to happen in the halls of Congress,” Collins said, not in an agency composed of unelected officials.

The FCC had no comment on the resolution.

This move is largely symbolic. It would be difficult for the resolution to gain the votes it needs to pass on the Senate side. Even then, it’s sure to get a veto from President Obama. The president came out strongly in favor of policies to protect an open Internet in the fall of last year.

A spokesman for Collins said this bill is no different than the many other pieces of legislation that the president is committed to returning to Congress. He said it’s about sending a strong signal to the American people that Congress is serious about an Open Internet.

The resolution today is not unexpected, it’s just the first to come after the rules were officially published. Republicans released text of a net neutrality proposal in January that would take the authority away from the FCC in determining net neutrality rules. As Alex Wilhelm wrote at the time, such a move would leave net neutrality open to the “usual horseshit and chicanery that we see from Congress.”

Judging from the string of net neutrality hearings we saw last month, the congressional antics may be worse than we could have imagined.

The cosponsors of that January bill have not yet voiced support for Collins’ bill. Their offices did not immediately respond to request for comment.

Collins has the support of Bob Goodlatte, the Republican chair of the Judiciary Committee, as well as 12 other Republicans. Collins’ spokesman said having a high-profile Republican like Goodlatte backing the bill will allow it to gain more support from members in the coming weeks.

This is not the first time Congress has attempted to fight a FCC rulemaking with a resolution. In 2011 Upton sponsored a bill disapproving the 2010 net neutrality rules that passed the House but languished in the Senate.

History has a way of repeating itself.