Press Release

Public Knowledge Rejects House Appropriations Funding Bill Penalizing FCC for Open Internet Order

June 9, 2016 , , ,

Today, the House Appropriations Committee marked up its fiscal year (FY) 2017 Financial Services and General Government Appropriations bill. The bill includes appropriations for the Federal Communications Commission of approximately $315 million — $69 million less than the agency received in 2016 and $43 million below the requested amount.

The legislation also prohibits the FCC from implementing its landmark Open Internet Order pending a decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, and requires the agency to make all proposed regulations publicly available 21 days before a Commission vote. Additionally, it prohibits the FCC from protecting consumers from harmful broadband pricing structures and prevents the FCC from promoting set-top box competition in its Notice of Proposed Rulemaking pending further study.

The following may attributed to Kate Forscey, Government Affairs Associate Counsel at Public Knowledge:

“Public Knowledge is disappointed by the insistence of the majority on using the blunt instrument of  appropriations bills to settle technically complicated policy matters that are typically left to the expert agency or Committees of jurisdiction. Once again, a slew of harmful riders have been piled on top of this bill. In particular, several riders take specific aim at the Federal Communication Commission’s ability to enforce its historic net neutrality rules, address a litany of questionable new billing practices, and complete its Congressionally-mandated competitive video navigation proceeding. This deliberate undermining of federal agencies’ ability to do their jobs in serving the public interest is thematic of the majority’s appropriations policy over the past several years.

“Nonetheless, we are grateful to those members on the Committee who remain stalwart in their efforts to see the appropriations process through properly. In particular, both Congressman Serrano and Congresswoman Lowey have repeatedly spoken forcefully against these partisan policy riders, and today introduced smart amendments to strip the misguided language from the bill so that it can move forward without unduly harming agencies’ ability to protect consumers.

“Public Knowledge remains committed to thwarting any attempts to abuse the appropriations process in an effort to undermine federal agencies’ mandates to protect consumers, and promote competition and innovation in the 21st century. We encourage all Members of the House to oppose this bill as long as it contains these harmful policy riders.”