On Wednesday, the House Judiciary Committee will mark-up H.R. 4768, the “Separation of Powers Restoration Act of 2016” (“SOPRA”). SOPRA is a product of the Article 1 Project, an effort from conservative members of both the House of Representatives and the Senate to increase the powers of Congress. SOPRA would overturn decades of settled law, undermining cornerstone principles of American administrative law and creating significant uncertainty for federal agencies, regulated industries, and consumers.
Today, Public Knowledge joined more than 49 other public interest groups in a letter to Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) and Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) urging Congress to vote against H.R. 2666, the “No Rate Regulation of Broadband Internet Access Act,” because the bill would prevent the Federal Communications Commission from performing its consumer protection duties. Public Knowledge contends that the legislation would undermine the FCC’s Open Internet Order, basic consumer protection powers, and even agency oversight of broadband provider charges and business practices.
Recently we highlighted the rapid effort to pass H.R. 2666 (the so-called “No Rate Regulation of Broadband Internet Access Act”) as a poorly crafted effort to prohibit rate regulation. We pointed out a variety of options to mitigate the consequences of the broad sweeping language. Consequences which we allowed were perhaps unintended.
On tomorrow’s episode of Attempts to Undermine the Efficacy of the Federal Communications Commission, the House Energy and Commerce Communications Subcommittee will mark up H.R. 2666, the so called “No Rate Regulation of Broadband Internet Access Act”. Ostensibly, the one-paragraph bill appears straightforward, prohibiting the FCC from “rate regulation,” or regulating “the rates charged for broadband internet access service,” as defined by the Commission’s 2015 Open Internet Order. But in fact, the inclusion of the sweeping phrase “without regard to any other provision of law,” combined with copious remarks from last month’s hearing, make it clear that the bill is simply another effort to gut the FCC’s ability to enforce net neutrality and protect broadband subscribers from overcharges and carrier abuse.