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Upton, Barton Take Different Tacks on Net Neutrality Proposal

Some top House Republicans Wednesday took aim at the FCC's plan to implement proposed network neutrality rule changes, though in markedly different tones.

"The relentless push towards net neutrality reveals this administration and the FCC remain tone deaf to the will of the American people," said Rep Fred Upton( R-Mich.), who is running for the chairmanship of the powerful House Energy & Commerce Committee, which oversees the FCC. "First it was cap-and-trade, then health care, and now they have launched an all out assault to regulate the Internet."

Upton has consistently opposed net neutrality regs and continued on that same track, using tough language to frame the issue.

"We have all grown sick and tired of the Chicago-style politics to ram through job-killing measures at any cost, regardless of the consequences or damage to our economy. Rather than put a gun to the heads of our largest economic engines, now is the time for the FCC to cease and desist. The FCC does not have authority to regulate the Internet, and pursuing net neutrality through Title I or reclassification is wholly unacceptable.  Our new majority will use rigorous oversight, hearings and legislation to fight the FCC's overt power grab," he said.

Upton's opponent in the chairmanship race took a gentler tone. Rep. Joe Barton (R-Tex.), ranking member of the Energy & Commerce Committee joined with Cliff Stearns (R-Fla.), ranking member of the Communications Subcommittee in a letter praising Genachowski for "abandoning" a proposal to reclassify broadband under Title II common carrier regs. But they still suggested that the should leave it up to Congress to clarify its broadband regulatory authority.

"There are questions as to the FCC's statutory authority to adopt these rules under Title I. The D.C. Circuit ruled in its April 2010 Comcast decision that the FCC had failed to demonstrate authority under Title I to regulate Internet network management," they wrote. "We therefore write to request your analysis of the FCC's authority under Title I to issue the proposed rule. In the absence of clear authority, the FCC should defer to Congress in this matter."
They were looking for an answer by Dec. 10.

The Chairman circulated a draft order of expanded and codified network neutrality rules Tuesday night and commissioners have until Dec. 21 to weigh in before the planned vote on the item at the meeting that day.