Today, the House Appropriations Committee released its fiscal year (FY) 2016 Financial Services and General Government Appropriations bill and announced that it plans to mark up the bill June 11 in the Financial Services Subcommittee. The bill includes appropriations for the Federal Communications Commission of approximately $315 million — $25 million less than the agency received in 2015 and $73 million less than the agency’s FY 2016 request.
The bill also directs the FCC and other agencies to report to the House and Senate Appropriations Committees on public participation in rule-making processes, agency coordination and instances of regulatory overlap with other agencies, and existing FCC rules that may be ineffective and burdensome. Finally, the proposed bill seeks to use funding limitations and withholdings to:
- Modify the FCC’s rule-making process;
- Limit regulations on broadband fees, prices and data caps; and
- Prevent implementation and enforcement of the Open Internet Order.
The following statement can be attributed to Harold Feld, Senior Vice President at Public Knowledge:
“The Appropriations Committee proposal reflects an extremism out of step with the American people, and even with the broadband providers themselves. Even the carriers opposing the FCC’s decision in federal court have not attempted to stay the 3 “bright line” Net Neutrality rules that prevent broadband providers from blocking, degrading or prioritizing content.
“The Chairman of the Appropriations Committee made it clear he intended to punish the FCC for doing it’s job, and he has made good on that threat. The Appropriations Committee has spitefully cut the budget of the agency, apparently indifferent to the impact this will have on the ability of the FCC to safeguard the 9-1-1 system, ensure rural call completion, prevent harmful interference to wireless communications, and otherwise safeguard the security and reliability of our national communications system.
“Worst of all, the Appropriations Committee ban on FCC enforcement that “directly or indirectly” regulates prices would prevent the FCC from performing even the most basic consumer protection action, such as the recent FCC enforcement against wireless carriers requiring them to refund charges for services customers did not order or had discontinued. The Appropriations Committee would rather declare open season to rob American broadband subscribers with overcharges and ripoffs than allow the FCC to do its job.
“Hopefully, reason will prevail over pettiness and spite, or the American people will be the ones to pay the price.”
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.