GOP-controlled House committee seeks to gut FCC authority, kill set-top proposal

Republicans controlling the House Appropriations Committee have released a plan that would cut the FCC's budget by 18 percent and block the agency's ability to enforce its net neutrality rules and to adopt its proposed new regulations on set-tops. 

"The bill contains $315 million for the FCC — a cut of $69 million below the fiscal year 2016 enacted level and $43 million below the [agency's] request," said an announcement by the House Appropriations Committee. (As Ars Technica notes, the committee is chaired by Rep. Hal Rogers (R-Ky.), who received $25,500 from the telecom industry in the current campaign cycle.)

"The legislation prohibits the FCC from implementing the net neutrality order until certain court cases are resolved, requires newly proposed regulations to be made publicly available for 21 days before the Commission votes on them, prohibits the FCC from regulating broadband rates, and requires the FCC to refrain from further activity of the recently proposed set-top box rule until a study is completed," the announcement added. 

The GOP-sponsored plan seeks to run out the clock on FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler before he can enact his "Unlock the Box" set-top proposal.

It would require the FCC to commission a "peer-reviewed" study of the set-top proposal at an institution of higher education. Another 90-day commenting period would be needed, followed by a 180-day waiting period during which the FCC could take no action. 

The timing of all this is aimed at exceeding the remainder of Wheeler's term. Technically, he's slated to leave in November 2018. However, it is customary for FCC chairs to depart soon after the president who appointed them leaves office. 

For more:
- read this House Appropriations Committee announcement
- read this Ars Technica story

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