New bill would invalidate FCC's net neutrality rules

A group of Republican lawmakers has introduced a bill that would invalidate the U.S. Federal Communications Commission’s recently passed net neutrality rules.

The legislation, introduced by Representative Doug Collins, a Georgia Republican, is called a resolution of disapproval, a move that allows Congress to review new federal regulations from government agencies, using an expedited legislative process.

The resolution is the quickest way to stop what Collins called heavy-handed regulations that will hamper broadband deployment and could increase taxes and fees, he said in a statement. “We’ll all be paying more for less,” he added.

Republican opponents of the FCC’s net neutrality rules are going against strong public support for the regulations, said Matt Wood, policy director at digital rights group Free Press. “Once again, some members of Congress have sided with the phone and cable lobby and against Internet users,” he said in an email.

Under a resolution of disapproval, the Senate, where other bills looking to overturn net neutrality rules are likely to get tied up, is required to act quickly. A resolution of disapproval cannot be amended or be filibustered. Other legislative attempts to overturn the rules would likely face a filibuster by minority Democrats in the Senate, although President Barack Obama would likely veto the resolution if it passes.

Thirteen Republican representatives, including Bob Goodlatte of Virginia and Bob Latta of Ohio, co-sponsored Collins’ resolution.

Republicans in the House of Representatives also tried unsuccessfully to overturn the FCC’s 2010 net neutrality rules, using a resolution of disapproval. The Republican-controlled House approved a resolution, but the Senate, then with Democrats in the majority, voted to kill the resolution in November 2011. A U.S. appeals court later threw out a large portion of those 2010 rules.

Collins’ bill came the same day that the FCC published the new rules in the Federal Register, the official publication for U.S. agency rules. The new rules haven’t gone into effect yet; there’s a 60-day waiting period after they appear in the Federal Register.

The new net neutrality rules, approved by the FCC on Feb. 26, would prohibit broadband and mobile carriers from selectively blocking or slowing Web traffic. The rules also reclassify broadband as a regulated, common-carrier service, instead of treating it as a lightly regulated information service, as the FCC has done for the past decade.

Also on Monday, the United States Telecom Association [USTelecom] refiled its lawsuit challenging the rules. USTelecom filed the same lawsuit in late March because of procedural questions about when the trade group was required to file a challenge.

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