By Elizabeth Beshears
Representative Gary Palmer (R-AL6) on Monday called the Federal Communications Commission's "Net Neutrality" ruling an abuse of the agency's power.
"The FCC's "net neutrality' erodes the authority of Congress," Rep. Palmer said. "The FCC, an independent federal agency, does not have the authority to write laws, but in a 3-2 ruling has done just that."
The FCC's ruling, which grants one of the White House's second term wishes, brings the internet under the purview of the agency, labeling it a "public utility." According to the Heritage Foundation, net neutrality "refers to the principle that the owners of broadband networks (such as Verizon and Comcast) should treat all communications traveling over their networks alike."
Conservatives are concerned that, in reality, the ruling means that for the first time ever the internet will be regulated by the government.
"By putting internet content under the thumb of federal bureaucrats, this ruling threatens free speech," Palmer said. "This ruling cannot be allowed to stand."
"The internet is one of the great success stories of free enterprise," Palmer continued. "It has grown rapidly in the past two decades precisely because it is unfettered by intrusive regulations. Free markets have ensured low prices for consumers and entrepreneurs alike. The internet will not be made "more free' through government intrusion, particularly as we already have laws to stop the hypothetical anti-competitive practices that this order is supposedly intended to fix."
Palmer joins a host of other Republicans speaking out against net neutrality. House Speaker John Boehner vowed to fight the idea in Congress, and Senate Commerce Committee Chairman John Thune (R-SD) has even floated the idea of using the Congressional Review Act to overrule the FCC's new rules.
In January, Alabama's Republican National Committeeman Paul Reynolds sought to strengthen GOP resolve on the issue with a resolution at the RNC's winter meeting.
"(Net neutrality) will give (the federal government) the ability to regulate the flow of information, who gets what bandwidth when," Reynolds told Yellowhammer. "It also gives them the ability to put fees on the internet for service and determine what categories get preference when there is a bandwidth shortage That's ok until somebody like Yellowhammer starts being squeezed out when they take a political position."
Palmer said he sides with FCC Commissioner Ajit Pai, one of the two members of the 5-member body that voted against the government assuming more regulatory control of the internet.
"Commissioner Pai said it best in his dissent, when he said, "because this Order imposes intrusive government regulations that won't work to solve a problem that doesn't exist using legal authority the FCC doesn't have, I dissent.' I could not have put it better."