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Rep. Blackburn: Republicans Back Net Neutrality

Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.), chairman of the House Communications Subcommittee, bristled at the suggestion that Republicans are opposed to network neutrality. 

That came in her opening statement for an FCC reauthorization hearing.

"Let me be clear," she said, "Republicans have always supported a free and open internet." She referred to the internet day of action protest July 12 and Amazon, Facebook and Google's participation—alongside PornHub, Free Press and others—to suggest Republicans were trying to break the internet. 

She said that was not the case. Instead they were trying to "restore the culture of humility lacking under the regulatory cloud left by former FCC chairman Tom Wheeler. 

She said it was time to move past partisan rhetoric and pass legislation clarifying net neutrality oversight.

Vice chairman Rep. Leonard Lance (R-N.J.) agreed and said there was common ground on the need for net neutrality and added that a light-touch approach has strong support.

Taking the other side was subcommittee ranking member Mike Doyle (D-Pa.), who pointed to the over 12 million net neutrality comments in the FCC's public file as evidence that there was nothing wrong with the FCC's net neutrality rules that needed legislative fixes. He said the rules are working and to roll them back would hurt small business and "regular people."

Former ranking member Anna Eshoo (D-Calif.) associated herself with Doyle's remarks, calling them superb. 

She said that the FCC is barreling down the road toward eliminating critical protections and making it clear that start-ups and small business input is not as valued as special interests. 

Blackburn agreed that Title II and net neutrality deserves the attention of the committee.

“If the FCC moves ahead with its net neutrality plan the consequences will be severe,” said Rep. Frank Pallone (D-N.J.), ranking member of the parent House Energy & Commerce Committee. “Their plan will have a chilling influence on our democracy, cut away at our connections with each other, and limit economic opportunities for the future.”

(Photo via Gage Skidmores Flickr. Image taken on May 25, 2017 and used per Creative Commons 2.0 license. The photo was cropped to fit 9x16 aspect ratio.)