GOP leaders of a House committee who have been highly critical of the net neutrality regulations the Federal Communications Commission approved in December came out swinging again on Tuesday, blasting the response Chairman Julius Genachowski submitted to their questionnaire asking for details about the new rules.
Fred Upton (Mich.), the chairman of the Energy and Commerce Committee, along with Greg Walden (Ore.), who chairs the Communications and Technology Subcommittee, and subpanel Vice Chairman Lee Terry (Neb.) had asked Genachowski to detail the economic analysis the agency conducted before moving ahead with the rules, and to explain why the agency is keeping open a separate proceeding involving the reclassification of broadband as a regulated service under communications law.
The lawmakers were not impressed with Genachowski’s two-page response (available here in PDF format).
“The analysis the FCC points to in its order does little more than summarize the comments of parties and provide conclusory statements,” they said in a statement. “The committee will continue to scour the referenced text for a glimmer of legitimate analysis, but frankly we expect more from an ‘expert’ agency.”
Of course, with the GOP members unwavering in their opposition to net neutrality regulations in any form, it seems likely that the reaction would have been negative regardless of how Genachowski responded.
Indeed, the net neutrality proceedings in the House have hewed to a prescribed course, and it is difficult to overlook the air of inevitability about it all. Was anyone’s mind changed at the oversight hearing Walden’s subcommittee convened last month, when Genachowski and the four FCC commissioners each testified, and the lawmakers of both parties spent the proceeding talking past one another with scripted message points that read like the press releases churned out by the groups that lobby the issue on either side?
Or does anyone doubt that tomorrow, when the subcommittee plans to hold another hearing, this time inviting contrapuntal testimony from the likes of AT&T and Free Press, that the result will be the same? Or that the vote on a joint resolution of disapproval, scheduled to take place after the hearing, will see a partisan majority overcome a partisan minority and send the legislation on to Upton’s full committee?
Political theatre is part of life in Washington, but it would be a relief if this particular production would end its run.