Sen. Wyden Slams Pai on Senate Floor

Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) took to the Senate floor Thursday morning (Sept. 28) to oppose renominating FCC chair Ajit Pai. His remarks came just before a planned cloture vote on debate on Pai's nomination to a new, five-year term on the FCC.

Wyden said his opposition was rooted in Pai's proposal to roll back Title II classification of ISPs and rethink net-neutrality rules. Wyden has been one of the Hill's most vociferous critics of that proposal.

Wyden said Pai had worked long and hard to undermine net neutrality, which he said was folks getting a "fair shake" online.

Related: Gigi Sohn Writes That Pai Should Be Fired

While Pai's renomination and confirmation are expected to eventually go through, Democrats were using debate time to make their cases and record their grievances.

Wyden also took aim at ISPs, saying their commitment to "voluntary" net neutrality was bogus. He said there was as much likelihood that they would do so voluntarily as that his nine-year-old son would voluntary limit himself to one dessert. "It just isn't going to happen."

He said Pai was on the side of the big cable companies over small businesses and consumers.

The senator said Pai had signaled he was blowing up the internet's level playing field by saying he would take a weed whacker to regulations.

He said the debate was not over Google vs. Oracle, but about start-ups and small businesses wanting to grow.

Wyden said AT&T could give HBO streamers a break over competitors -- AT&T is trying to buy HBO parent Time Warner.

Wyden's speech followed a similar attack on Pai by Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.) the day before.

Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) added that Pai simply sides with big corporations and endorsed Wyden's remarks.

John Eggerton

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.