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Public Statements

Disapproving the Rule Submitted by the Federal Communications Commission with Respect to Regulating the Internet and Broadband Industry Practices

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC


Mr. DeMINT. I thank the Chair. I thank Senator Hutchison for her efforts here in stopping another regulatory nightmare. I am beginning to think the FCC stands for Fabricating a Crisis Commission because they are trying to create a new regulation for a problem that does not exist. The overriding problem here is, as the government intervenes increasingly into the Internet and the investment in the Internet, that investment is going to dry up as uncertainty is increased.

I have seen in my State where private investors have put together the money with companies to put down broadband in rural areas only to find that there are some companies operating with a government grant or some government money to compete with them.

Under President Obama, the FCC has become an activist bureaucracy that is inventing a crisis here in order to take control of the Internet.

The Internet is one thing in our country that is working vibrantly. It is a showcase of free enterprise. It does not need to be regulated. For years liberals have warned us that, if the government does not take action, the Internet will not be competitive or accessible. The opposite has happened. More people are using the Internet and have access to cutting-edge technology and devices than ever.

This is yet another misguided big-government solution in search of a problem. Last year, the courts ruled in the Comcast decision that the FCC does not have the authority to mandate how private companies can enter into business agreements and limit the ways they provide Internet services. The FCC did not learn its lesson and instead is at it again with its Open Internet Order, which is vague, baseless, and built on an even weaker legal foundation than their activities in Comcast. Congress did not authorize such actions and the courts have ruled against them. The FCC should not try to get around it by redefining clear legislative language passed by Congress.

There has been no demonstrable harm to which the FCC needs to respond. They cannot give us a case where competition is not growing, where the expansion of broadband is not growing. In fact, new technologies are exceeding the pace that the FCC can even keep up with.

We do not need to come in and slow down the growth. If the FCC wants to take action, it should prove there is legitimate harm in the marketplace. The Department of Justice and the Federal Trade Commission have a number of laws and regulations to enforce in the name of protecting consumers who use the Internet and competition among companies involved in the market. If those laws are lacking, the FCC should show how and ask Congress to provide it with statutory authority.

The FCC has not done so. They have not shown us that harm has taken place and that they need to take control, essentially, of the Internet. Congress has yet again been cut out of the picture, and many of my colleagues in the majority seem comfortable with abandoning their role. The FCC's bad logic needs to be recognized. They admit these new rules were not imposed due to any previous or existing wrongdoing. That is important for us to recognize.

If a regulatory agency is issuing an order that intervenes into the private sector, there needs to be some substantial harm being addressed. The FCC claims the government must regulate the Internet in order to protect consumers from future harms that could occur. That is not the point of the regulatory structure.

I heard all of these arguments back in 2006 when the Senate was debating how to update our telecommunications laws. If the regulation advocates had won in 2006, today we would have the Internet of 2006. I do not want the Internet of 2006 in 2011, and I do not want the Internet of 2011 in 2016. I want it to grow and improve and evolve just as it is doing now. The government cannot possibly manage the development of the Internet, which the FCC is trying to do.

The Internet does not need a government stimulus. It is a free market industry that is working. Right now, the technology sector has a 3.3-percent unemployment rate, far below the national average. Over the years, communications companies have invested hundreds of billions of dollars in broadband technology and development, and no deficit-expanding stimulus was required!

If the government really wants to allow the Internet and related businesses to prosper and thrive, it should stay out of it. The Internet is not broken, but our government is. The private telecommunications sector knows how to create jobs; our government does not. The things that work best in our society--businesses, charities, volunteer organizations--are the things that government does not control. Consumers should be in control, not unelected activist bureaucrats intent on taking over the most successful parts of our economy.

I encourage my colleagues to support this resolution to undo the FCC's power grab. Three unelected bureaucrats should not be permitted to simply give themselves the power to regulate the Internet's infrastructure in the face of clear statutory language directing them to do just the opposite.

The FCC should not be permitted to circumvent Congress and essentially enact laws that will impact vital services we all depend on. To keep the Internet economy thriving, this decision must be reversed. I commend Senator Hutchison for bringing this up and using the powers of Congress to take back control of our legislative responsibility.

I yield the floor.


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