Today, Public Knowledge and thirteen other organizations sent a letter to Representatives Greg Walden and Anna Eshoo of the House of Representatives Energy and Commerce Committee. This letter expresses strong concerns with draft legislation proposed by Representatives Adam Kinzinger, Renee Ellmers, and Bob Latta that would introduce unprecedented and complex procedures to the Federal Communications Commission’s rulemaking processes. Letter signatories have strong concerns about legislation that undermines FCC processes at the expense of a small increase in transparency.
The following can be attributed to Chris Lewis, VP of Government Affairs at Public Knowledge:
“The FCC is an important agency that works to protect consumers in a technical marketplace. Two of the agencies strengths are its rulemaking authority, which allows it to act quickly and efficiently, and its commission structure, which involves five commissioners with diverse backgrounds and views who are willing to negotiate to reach consensus.
“This is why it’s troubling to see these draft bills, which would exchange effective negotiation and consultation among commissioners for a small increase in transparency. Rep. Kinzinger’s draft bill creates the potential for an endless cycle of edits and public postings, which could stall agency decision-making. Rep. Ellmers’ draft bill fails to balance the needs for transparency with the need for negotiation and deliberation among commissioners. Rep. Latta’s draft bill creates a superfluous procedure of negligible benefit.
“Transparency is an important value in a regulatory agency, but it must be balanced with other aspects of the FCC’s processes to maintain an effective agency. Even the recent Open Internet decision has been wrongly accused of lacking transparency, despite the record-setting level of public engagement following the publishing of the draft rules. I trust that Congress would not single out the FCC for reform based on concerns some members may have with the substance of the decision.
“Public Knowledge has been an active participant in the Communications Act update discussions and hopes that any decisions around process reform would take a broad view of the strengths of the FCC’s rulemaking processes, and potential unintended consequences of narrow reforms. We believe these bills have unintended consequences that outweigh any transparency benefits, and therefore cannot support them at this time.”
You may view the letter here.
Members of the media may contact Communications Director Shiva Stella with inquiries, interview requests, or to join the Public Knowledge press list at firstname.lastname@example.org or 405-249-9435.