By Brent Wilkes
A CONGRESSIONAL EFFORT pushed by big online companies to promote net neutrality through an obscure legislative tool ignores a simple truth: It will not permanently protect a free and open internet and will continue to leave millions on the wrong side of the digital divide. Rather than spending time on a legislative Hail Mary with virtually no chance of becoming reality, Congress should come together to develop a comprehensive bill that levels the internet playing field for all Americans.
Following the December vote by the Federal Communications Commission to repeal Title II regulations on the internet, a group of congressional lawmakers proposed repealing the order by using a device called the Congressional Review Act. That law gives Congress the power to nullify rules enacted by federal agencies via a simple majority — making it immune to filibusters and congressional debate.
Prior to 2017, the Congressional Review Act had only successfully been invoked once. And while it has recently been used to repeal a number of Obama-era rules, much to the dismay of progressives, it has never been used to establish substantive policy that affects virtually every American.
But while lawmakers and tech giants have claimed that using a Congressional Review Act would restore net neutrality, it would actually do nothing to strengthen net neutrality rules and expand opportunities for all Americans to participate in a truly open internet. Even in the unlikely event that the effort passed Congress, the Trump administration would likely respond by issuing a new set of rules, thus prolonging today’s ping-pong regulatory cycle and leaving an uncertain future for consumers and broadband providers.