Several dozen Republican senators are uniting in opposition to a new push for internet regulation from the Federal Communications Commission.
After Democrats gained a majority on the commission last month, FCC Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel reignited a push for “net neutrality” setting the rules of the road for broadband internet access.
Former President Trump’s administration reversed Obama-era rules banning internet service providers from controlling digital traffic, a move defended by 44 Republican senators this week in a letter to Ms. Rosenworcel.
The GOP senators view the potential return of net neutrality rules as aggressive regulation expanding the federal government’s powers beyond its proper reach.
“Reimposing heavy-handed, public-utility regulations on the internet would threaten the progress our country has made since 2017, and it would steer our country out of the fast lane and into a world of less competition, less choice, less investment, slower speeds, and higher prices,” the senators said. “Further, the FCC lacks this statutory authority over broadband internet access.”
Democrats describe a world without net neutrality regulation as dangerous. In remarks at the National Press Club last month, Ms. Rosenworcel said the absence of the rules creates challenges for national security, cybersecurity, network reliability, privacy, broadband deployment, and other issues.
She said people who argued the removal of the rules was harmless were mistaken.
“If you think that nothing much has happened since the FCC retreated from our net neutrality policies and are asking yourself, ‘What’s the big deal?’, think again,” Ms. Rosenworcel said last month. “Then look harder.”
Last week, Ms. Rosenworcel shared her plan to restore the internet rules with her colleagues, and the FCC is planning to address the proposal at an October 19 meeting.
The 44 Republican lawmakers, led by Sens. Ted Cruz of Texas and John Thune of South Dakota, argue the FCC‘s rulemaking has been hyper-partisan and politicized.
The senators urged the FCC to focus on “rampant waste, fraud, and abuse in the federal government’s broadband subsidy programs,” instead of on net neutrality.
“Our country faces real challenges. A lack of public-utility regulations for the internet is not one of them,” the senators said.
• This article was based in part on wire service reports.