Scott Stands Against President Biden’s FCC Internet Takeover, Champions Internet Freedom
WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Senator Tim Scott (R-S.C.) joined Senators Ted Cruz (R-Texas), John Thune (R-S.D.), and 41 of his Senate colleagues in urging Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chairwoman Rosenworcel to abandon her proposal to reinstate failed, heavy-handed Obama-era internet regulations, which promise to create regulatory uncertainty and stifle America’s ability to continue leading in broadband services. In their letter, the senators note that following the repeal of the Obama-era rules in 2017, all of the Democrats’ claims – most notably that Americans would get the internet one word at a time – were proven false. Just the latest of the Biden administration’s actions to bypass Congress through federal agencies, this policy would impose regulations intended for public utility services, such as water, gas, and electricity, on internet service.
Senators Tim Scott, Cruz and Thune were joined by Senators John Barrasso (R-Wyo.), Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.), John Boozman (R-Ark.), Katie Britt (R-Ala.), Ted Budd (R-N.C.), Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.), John Cornyn (R-Texas), Tom Cotton (R-Ark.), Kevin Cramer (R-N.D.), Mike Crapo (R-Idaho), Bill Cassidy M.D.(R-La.), Steve Daines (R-Mont.), Joni Ernst (R-Iowa), Deb Fischer (R-Neb.), Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), Bill Hagerty (R-Tenn.), John Hoeven (R-N.D.), Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-Miss.), Ron Johnson (R-Wis.), James Lankford (R-Okla.), Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), Mike Lee (R-Utah), Cynthia Lummis (R-Wyo.), Roger Marshall (R-Kansas), Jerry Moran (R-Kansas), Markwayne Mullin (R-Okla.), Rand Paul (R-Ky.), Pete Ricketts (R-Neb.), Jim Risch (R-Idaho), Mitt Romney (R-Utah), Mike Rounds (R-S.D.), Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), Eric Schmitt (R-Mo.), Rick Scott (R-Fla.), Dan Sullivan (R-Ala.), John Thune (R-S.D.), Thom Tillis (R-N.C.), Tommy Tuberville (R-Ala.), Roger Wicker (R-Miss.) and Todd Young (R-Ind.).
“Re-imposing heavy-handed, public-utility regulations on the internet would threaten the progress our country has made since 2017, and it would steer our country out of the fast lane and into a world of less competition for consumers, less choice, less investment, slower speeds, and higher prices,”wrote the senators. “Further, the FCC lacks this statutory authority over broadband internet access. Any attempt by the FCC to reinstate net neutrality regulations and the onerous rules of Title II on internet service providers will not survive judicial review. The FCC has pushed net neutrality and lost in court – more than once – already, and two of President Obama’s former solicitors general have warned that reclassification by the FCC cannot survive the major questions doctrine.”
Senator Scott first led efforts to oppose expanding bureaucratic internet regulations in 2014 when the Obama administration called on the FCC to redefine internet service providers as “common carriers”, making them subject to Title II of the Communications Act of 1934. In his role as member of the Senate Commerce Committee, which has oversight of the FCC, Senator Scott opposed the policy change, arguing that the policy unconstitutionally circumvented Congress and eroded internet freedom.
Net neutrality is the principle that all internet traffic should be transparent without the ability for internet service providers (ISPs) to block, throttle or prioritize content. For most of its existence, internet access has been regulated by Title I, a light touch approach to regulating the internet that has powered rapid growth for decades. In 2015, the Obama administration’s heavy-handed approach expanded government powers. The FCC began applying Title II regulations to the internet, controlling ISPs as common carriers under a Depression-era framework designed for 19th century public utilities. Republicans rescinded the rule in 2017, restoring Title I regulations, fueling an open internet space and increasing broadband speeds.
Read the letter in full here and below:
The Honorable Jessica Rosenworcel
Federal Communications Commission
We write regarding our strong opposition to the Federal Communication Commission’s (FCC’s) proposal to reinstate the heavy-handed, public-utility regulations of Title II of the Communications Act on the internet. Doing so would be an historic mistake.
When the FCC rescinded the Obama-era Title II order almost six years ago, partisans argued that it was the “end of the internet as we know it,” that “you’ll get the internet one word at a time,” that consumers would have to pay by the tweet, and that online access would slow to a crawl. All such hyperbolic claims have proven false, as even FCC Democrat commissioners have admitted.
The growth of the internet continues to be a great American success story. Broadband investment has increased, deployment has increased, speeds have increased, and high-speed internet access has become more affordable than ever. American networks, freed from obtrusive regulations, easily handled the surge in demand during the COVID-19 pandemic. In contrast, Europe’s heavily regulated internet providers were forced to actively slow down speeds to maintain connectivity. Indeed, America is now a leader in adopting next-generation telecommunications services like 5G and Wi-Fi 6e while Europe struggles to keep pace.
Re-imposing heavy-handed, public-utility regulations on the internet would threaten the progress our country has made since 2017, and it would steer our country out of the fast lane and into a world of less competition, less choice, less investment, slower speeds, and higher prices.
Further, the FCC lacks this statutory authority over broadband internet access. Any attempt by the FCC to reinstate net neutrality regulations and the onerous rules of Title II on internet service providers will not survive judicial review. The FCC has pushed net neutrality and already lost in court – more than once – and two of President Obama’s former solicitors general have warned that reclassification by the FCC cannot survive the major questions doctrine.
Given the lack of any policy or legal rationale for moving forward with such a proposal, the FCC should not pursue a hyper-partisan, politicized rulemaking.
Our country faces real challenges. A lack of public-utility regulations for the internet is not one of them. Instead, the FCC and the Biden administration should be focusing on bipartisan efforts to address real problems, such as addressing rampant waste, fraud, and abuse in the federal government’s broadband subsidy programs, and regulatory and permitting obstacles to broadband deployment, both of which divert funds and resources from the goal of connecting unserved Americans.
We urge you to end this charade and shelve this fifth attempt to adopt so-called “net neutrality” regulations.