Earlier this week, Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chairman Ajit Pai celebrated a victory over an effort by Congress to overturn the agency’s decision to void the rules concerning net neutrality. In an official statement, Pai applauded what seemed to be the end of a section of Congress looking to overturn the FCC’s Restoring Internet Freedom Order using the Congressional Review Act (ACT); an Act that gives legislators the power to overrule decisions made by a federal agency within a certain frame of time.
The effort had been passed by the Senate in May 2018, but it ended up being stalled by the House of Representatives. The House required a majority of signatures on a discharge petition for a full vote to be forced. The petition was eventually signed by 182 lawmakers, leaving it 36 votes short of the required majority. If that majority had been reached, the repeal would have taken effect, barring any opposition from the President.
A new session in Congress begins today, with the Democrats controlling the House and the Republicans dominating the Senate, meaning net neutrality might be gone for good, at least for now.
Rep. Frank Pallone (D-N.J.), who chairs the House Energy and Commerce Committee, which oversees the FCC, questioned Pai’s motives, describing the net neutrality repeal as a “disaster for consumers,”
“It ignored the will of the American people and gave ISPs an opening to control peoples’ online activities at their discretion. The new Democratic majority will work to restore strong net neutrality rules in the House of Representatives this year.”
Pai, who was ecstatic over Congress’ failure to repeal the net neutrality rules said he was pleased with the actions of the “majority of the U.S. House of Representatives declined to reinstate heavy-handed internet regulation.”
“They did the right thing- especially considering the positive results for American consumers since the adoption of the Restoring Internet Freedom Order,” going further to reveal his agency’s plan to pursue a “forward-looking agenda to bring digital opportunity to all Americans.”
The chairman’s comments haven’t gone down well with some advocates of net neutrality, as most of them believe that a Congress with a Democrat-controlled House will be more critical of the FCC. In his statement, Evan Greer, Deputy Director of Internet rights group Fight for the Future, said:
“Dozens of anti-net neutrality members of Congress have already lost their jobs, and supporters of the open internet will soon chair the key committees that provide oversight for the FCC. Ajit Pai won’t be laughing long when he has finally had to answer questions like why his agency lied to the media about a [distributed denial-of-service] attack that never happened.”
Last modified: March 4, 2021 2:30 PM