A key Republican lawmaker overseeing the Federal Communications Commission has pledged this week to restrain the agency's powers after it decided to issue what he argues are illegal net neutrality rules.
Rep. Greg Walden (R-Ore.), who chairs the communications subcommittee of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, voiced his criticisms Wednesday at an industry summit hosted by the American Cable Association, according to The Hill.
“I think it’s illogical and illegal. It didn’t have to be this way,” said Walden of the FCC's vote to approve strong net neutrality protections. He added, "We intend to do our due diligence.”
Walden is urging bipartisan support for a bill that he contends will offer similar protections without the risk of slowing investments in communications infrastructure.
"I am at a loss for how to make my plea any clearer to my colleagues: Please work with us to draft a bill. What the FCC did last week is ill-advised, illogical and illegal," he said Monday at the American Enterprise Institute. "And while there are other tools at Congress’ disposal to express our displeasure with this action, I remain firmly committed to a bipartisan legislative solution."
On Feb. 26, the FCC voted to reclassify consumer broadband service as a utility under Title II of the Communications Act. With that new authority, the agency plans to ban Internet service providers from blocking lawful content and from charging content producers a premium for more reliable access to their content.
At the American Cable Association's gathering, Walden echoed the claim of other Republicans that the FCC has become a puppet of the Obama administration.
"It is a fiction that the FCC is an independent agency anymore," he said. "It is a relationship directly out of the White House, as we now know, and that is tragedy for the professionals at the FCC."
The five commissioners of the FCC are appointed by the president and confirmed by the Senate. No more than three can come from any one political party. Their 3-2 vote on net neutrality split along party lines.