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Republicans Launch Net Neutrality-Blocking Effort

Republican House leaders had scarcely brought the gavel down on an FCC oversight hearing when they announced they had formally introduced a measure to block the FCC's network neutrality rules.

Energy & Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-Mich.) announced the Resolution of Disapproval's  introduction only about an hour and a half after the hearing concluded. "We held a hearing today in which we gave the commissioners of the FCC one more opportunity to provide sufficient evidence of a crisis that warrants government intervention," he said. "They failed."

Among those backing the move are Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), Senator John Ensign (R-Nev.), Senate Commerce Ranking Member Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-Tex.) as well as Upton and Communications Subcommittee Chair Greg Walden (R-Ore.).

The resolution reads:
"Resolved by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, that Congress disapproves the rule submitted by the Federal Communications Commission relating to the matter of preserving the open Internet and broadband industry practices (Report and Order FCC 10-201, adopted by the Commission on December 21, 2010), and such rule shall have no force or effect."

The House and Senate have 60 days to act and the resolution requires only a simple majority in both Houses and can't be filibustered. But given the Democratically controlled Senate and a President who praised the rules' passage, it has a hard row to hoe.

The maneuver was attempted unsuccessfully by former Sen. Byron Dorgan  and others to try and block implementation of the FCC's media ownership rules changes under then-chairman Kevin Martin.

There is a separate proposal to attack a rider on the must-pass stop-gap continuing resolution that funds the government, but the president has threatened to veto that bill.

The Communications & Internet Subcommittee hearing Wednesday had illustrated the stark divide between Democrats who see the rules as openness-preserving baseline protections for consumers and innovators that are within the FCC's authority to implement and enforce, and Republicans who disapprove of it as an investment-killing, economy-chilling, congressional end-around of dubious legal standing.