- The Washington Times - Sunday, April 10, 2011

House Republicans waged a two-fronted attack on President Obama’s agenda last week by passing measures to repeal rules regarding Internet “neutrality” and the regulation of greenhouse gases.

And while the bills have little if any hope of becoming law, the lawmakers say they will continue to push back at what they say is an administration bent on overextending government’s power.

“Under Republican leadership, the House is focusing on ending anti-growth government regulations,” said House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, Virginia Republican. “We will continue to pursue policies that encourage businessmen and women to innovate and expand to ensure their long-term success.”

The GOP-controlled chamber on Friday voted 240 to 179 to disapprove a 2010 Federal Communications Commission rule that bans Internet-service providers from blocking traffic on their networks.

The rules also allow telecommunications and technology giants such as Verizon, Comcast and AT&T to “reasonably” manage their networks and charge consumers based on usage.

Republicans contend the rules needlessly impose government regulation on the Internet that ultimately will hinder the industry and stifle innovation.

“Once again, we’re here to put the brakes on runaway bureaucracy,” said House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton, Michigan Republican. “The FCC has overstepped its authority and is attempting to seize control of one of the nation’s greatest technological success stories.”

Democrats counter that they’re consumer friendly and were needed to curb the growing market power of large service providers.

“Instead of putting Americans first and working in a bipartisan way to keep the government operating, House Republicans chose to devote time today to a resolution that undermines the open Internet and will not become law,” said House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, California Democrat.

The FCC rules were adopted on a 3 to 2 vote in December after years of debate regarding the federal role of ensuring a free and open Internet. The FCC’s three Democrats voted in support and its two Republicans opposed it.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia last week dismissed challenges to the FCC rules that had been filed by Verizon and MetroPCS Communications, ruling that the challenges were premature.

It’s unlikely the House measure will overturn the FCC rules as it’s expected to die in the Democrat-controlled Senate. The White House also likely would veto the measure if it did clear Congress.

But Friday’s vote, which was mostly along partisan lines, was another example of the determination of House Republicans - who gained control of the chamber in January - to undermine marquee Obama administration priorities.

On Thursday, the House voted 255 to 172 to take away the Environmental Protection Agency’s authority to regulate greenhouse gases.

The move largely was negated by Senate action a day earlier, when Democrats defeated a GOP effort to ban the EPA from regulating the gases blamed for climate change. But House Republicans say they will continue their fight against an agency they peg as one of the most egregious examples of government overreach.

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