April 01, 2020

Van Hollen, Markey, Colleagues Call on FCC to Evaluate How Net Neutrality Repeal Negatively Impacts Public Safety, Universal Access, and Broadband Competition

Senators agree with D.C. Circuit that net neutrality repeal is “unhinged from the realities of modern broadband service”

U.S. Senator Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) joined Senator Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.) and a number of other Senators in writing a letter to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) demanding that it consider how repealing net neutrality could negatively impact public safety, universal access, and broadband competition.

In October 2019, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit upheld the Trump FCC’s repeal of the Open Internet Order as lawful but also ruled that the Commission failed to adequately consider public safety, the Lifeline program for low-income consumers, and competitive broadband providers’ access to poles needed to deploy their networks. The Senators write that by repealing these net neutrality rules, the FCC also abandoned its authority to promote public safety, universal service, and broadband competition, particularly for rural communities and low-income Americans.  American consumers and broadband users suffered as a result, and the current coronavirus pandemic further underscores the need for the FCC to promote public safety in light of the Court’s opinion.  

“Without solid authority over these vital areas, the Commission has called into question its ability to carry out core Congressional mandates: namely ‘promoting safety of life and property’ and the ‘preservation and advancement of universal service’,” write the Senators in their letter to FCC Chairman Ajit Pai. “Net neutrality rules that protect the free flow of ideas and commerce, along with the FCC’s power to ensure public safety and promote broadband access for communities throughout the country, are more important than ever.”

The full text of the letter is available here

Also signing the letter are: Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.), Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), Tammy Baldwin (D-Wisc.), Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.), Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), Tom Udall (D-N.M.), Jack Reed (D-R.I.), Patty Murray (D-Wash.), Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii), Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Ben Cardin (D-M.D.), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.), Maggie Hassan (D-N.H.), Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), and Tom Carper (D-Del.).