39 senators tell FCC: ‘Abandon this radical and reckless plan’

In a letter to FCC Chairman Ajit Pai, 39 senators (all Democrats, though Republicans have also voiced concern) urge the agency to stop its plan to eliminate net neutrality rules. Where the objections have come in ones and twos before, this is the largest official complaint we’ve seen against the FCC’s proposal, which is due to be voted on tomorrow.

“Your proposed action will amount to the largest abdication of the Federal Communication Commission’s (FCC’s) statutory responsibilities in history,” the senators write. “On behalf of our constituents — and future generations of Americans — we urge you to abandon this radical and reckless plan to turn the FCC’s back on consumers and the future of the free and open internet.”

“You are walking away from your statutory duties and effectively eliminating FCC oversight over high-speed internet access,” they write. And yet, at the same time, “Your proposal also makes sure that no other state or local government can fill this gaping consumer protection void… It is a stunning regulatory overreach.”

Update: In a much shorter letter following hot on the heels of the first, 117 members of Congress led by Pennsylvania Representative Mike Doyle also urge the FCC to put off the vote.

Update 2: Susan Collins (R-ME) and Angus King (I-ME), Senators who had previously only hinted at opposition to the FCC’s plan, sent the agency a letter on the morning of the vote asking it to be delayed:

We are writing to urge you to cancel today’s vote on the Restoring Internet Freedom Order… The proposal removes basic oversight over broadband practices that would impede the internet’s ability to serve our democracy, empower consumers, and fuel economic growth.

Given that this change will affect every sector of the U.S. economy, we are also concerned about the speed of the process, the lack of public hearings, and the underlying rationale for repealing net neutrality without and adequate replacement.

Now, let us not forget that the FCC as an agency operates under the supervision of Congress. Its duties and powers are literally defined by Congress. So when Congress says they are abdicating their statutory duties, they know whereof they speak.

I’ve asked the FCC for comment.

You can read the full letter here. The signing senators are also listed below:

  • Bill Nelson
  • Brian Schatz
  • Jack Reed
  • Gary Peters
  • Patty Murray
  • Sheldon Whitehouse
  • Mazie Hirono
  • Jon Tester
  • Tammy Duckworth
  • Ed Markey
  • Angus King Jr
  • Charles Schumer
  • Robert Casey
  • Maria Cantwell
  • Kirsten Gillibrand
  • Ron Wyden
  • Richard Blumenthal
  • Tammy Baldwin
  • Jeffrey Merkley
  • Patrick Leahy
  • Kamala Harris
  • Sherrod Brown
  • Bernie Sanders
  • Elizabeth Warren
  • Jeanne Shaheen
  • Tom Udall
  • Margaret Wood Hassan
  • Martin Heinrich
  • Al Franken
  • Amy Klobuchar
  • Benjamin Cardin
  • Catherine Cortez Masto
  • Cory Booker
  • Chris Van Hollen
  • Richard Durbin
  • Debbie Stabenow
  • Christopher Murphy
  • Tim Kaine
  • Robert Menendez

Is your senator not on this list? Feel free to ask them why.