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Public Statements

Providing For Consideration of H.J. RES. 37, Disapproving FCC Internet and Broadband Regulations

Floor Speech

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

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Mr. Speaker, what we have today is a resolution that comes under the Congressional Review Act, an act passed by a Republican Congress and President Clinton that gives the Congress the opportunity to look at the regulatory burdens imposed by the executive branch and, in a simple up-or-down vote, say do we want this regulation on the books or do we not.

Today that regulation is the net neutrality regulation the FCC has promulgated. H.J. Res. 37, the underlying bill that this rule allows us to consider, disapproves of the December 21 FCC rule concerning net neutrality on the basis that Congress did not authorize the FCC to regulate in this area. According to a D.C. Circuit Court decision in April of last year, the FCC failed to demonstrate that it had the authority to regulate Internet network management. Until such time as the FCC is given that authority by this Congress, we must reject any rules that it promulgates in this area.

Now, we will hear a lot today in the underlying resolution about the effective compromise that was crafted by the FCC. We will hear a lot about the light touch that was used by the FCC to wade into this area.

But, Mr. Speaker, if you don't have the authority to do it, you don't have the authority to do it. It is Congress' responsibility to delegate that authority. If folks like the underlying rule proposed by the FCC, they are welcome to bring that back as a congressional resolution.

This bill today is about congressional prerogative: Will we or will we not stand up to an executive branch that does not have the authority to regulate? We have done a sad job in this Congress in years past, Mr. Speaker, of providing that oversight responsibility. Republicans had the responsibility of providing oversight to the Bush administration, and we didn't always live up to that measure. Democrats had the responsibility to provide oversight to the Obama administration, and they haven't always lived up to that example.

We have the opportunity today to begin that step forward. Until Congress acts to delegate that responsibility, the Internet should continue as the Internet has grown and always continued as an area free of government interference, as an opportunity for entrepreneurs and investors and students and the elderly to be out there using the Internet as they see fit, free from the hand of government regulation.

I would also like to comment briefly on the nature of this rule. It is a closed rule. I came to this Congress to advocate in favor of an open process, Mr. Speaker, but it needs to be understood that the Congressional Review Act is a closed process by nature. What my constituents said to me is, Rob, if you are doing something complicated, I want you to open up the House floor and have as many amendments and as much discussion as you can because that is the right way to do things. But, what I would really prefer is you bring one bill with one idea and have an up-or-down vote for all the world to see.

Well, Mr. Speaker, that is exactly the call that we have responded to today: a simple bill, one page long that says the FCC does not have the delegated congressional authority to act in this area; and as such, their regulations shall be null and void.

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Mr. Speaker, I yield myself 60 seconds just to say in this theme of folks with the best of intentions ending up with the tremendous burdens on small business, I have just been informed and would like to inform this body that the Senate has passed H.R. 4, the House's repeal of the burdensome 1099 regulation requirements in ObamaCare, by a vote of 87-12. The bill is now on its way to the President for his signature.

This represents a huge win for American small businesses, a huge win for the abolition of burdensome government regulation, and the first official partial repeal of ObamaCare that will go to the President's desk and become law.

I reserve the balance of my time.

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Mr. Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume.

There is a promo out these days for a new television show that's coming on. It's about the CIA and chronicles the fellow's first day at the job at the CIA. He walks in and he looks around and he can't believe the disarray that he sees there. And his senior adviser there steps up and he says, son, have you ever walked into a post office and said, my gosh, I have stepped into the future?

And the answer is, no, the government is not the location where innovation thrives.

To hear this conversation today about how we need government regulation to protect the Internet, Mr. Speaker, we need to protect the Internet from government regulation, and that's why we are here today with this underlying resolution.

This FCC proposal is a solution to a problem that doesn't exist. To quote my friend from Colorado, as he was quoting the investment banks, these official rules are around what is already being done in the private sector. It's a solution to a problem that doesn't exist.

Mr. Speaker, it's a solution to a problem that doesn't exist using authority that the FCC does not have. It's interesting being down here today, as my colleague from Colorado talks about all the big businesses that have bought in and all the investment banks that bought in.

I have to say I don't give two hoots that big business and investment banks have bought in. If the authority does not exist to do it, then it should not be done. Over and over again, Mr. Speaker, we hear from this administration about how they can help, how they can help to solve problems, problems that exist and apparently now problems that don't exist.

If the authority does not exist, they cannot be allowed to regulate in this area, and that's why the subcommittee has brought this forward.

So we have a solution to a problem that doesn't exist using authority that doesn't exist, and where does this lead us?

I want to read to you, Mr. Speaker, from the FCC order dated December 21 of last year: Finally, we decline to apply our rules directly to coffee shops, bookstores, airlines, and other entities that acquire their Internet service from a broadband provider.

Although broadband providers that offer such services are subject to these rules, we note that addressing traffic is a legitimate network management purpose for these premise operators.

Authority that does not exist and the FCC says, in its benevolence, in its benevolence, that at this time it chooses, it chooses, Mr. Speaker, not to regulate the way that coffee shops, bookstores, and airlines provide Internet service to their customers.

Folks, this is the camel's nose under the tent. That is why we have to be vigilant. It doesn't matter if we like the underlying rule. It doesn't matter if the authority does not exist, Mr. Speaker.

We are obligated as one of three branches of government, we are obligated to step in where regulatory authority exceeds its bounds. Now, as we have said, the courts have already looked at this decision and decided, as we have, that the FCC does not have authority to act in this area, solution to a problem that doesn't exist, using authority that it doesn't have that starts to pave the way to regulate coffee shops, airlines and bookstores.

Mr. Speaker, this is a simple rule for a simple bill. We have talked so much about 2,000-page bills with lots of hidden consequences. We have talked broadband section 1099 of the health care act now being repealed and passed now by the Senate and going on to the President's desk. I want to read to you this bill in its entirety if you will permit me the time:

``Resolved by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, That Congress disapproves the rules submitted by the Federal Communications Commission relating to the matter of preserving the open Internet and broadband industry practices, and such rule shall have no force or effect.''

That's it. That's it, eight lines, ``no force or effect.''

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