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Thune Slams the Biden FCC’s So-Called Net Neutrality Proposal

“The Biden FCC’s net neutrality proposal is a solution – a heavy-handed government solution – in search of a problem.”

January 25, 2024

Click here to watch the video.

WASHINGTON — U.S. Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.) today spoke on the Senate floor about the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC’s) so-called net neutrality proposal to increase government control of the internet. Thune noted that following the repeal of similar regulations that were enacted during the Obama administration, broadband investment, deployment, and internet speeds have increased. In October, Thune led more than 40 of his colleagues in a letter urging FCC Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel to abandon the administration’s heavy-handed net neutrality proposal.

Thune’s remarks below (as prepared for delivery):

“Mr. President, if anything keeps my Democrat colleagues up at night, I’m pretty sure it’s the specter of some aspect of society not being regulated by the federal government.

“How else to explain Democrats’ tendency to propose heavy-handed government solutions to address nonexistent problems?

“And there is no better example of a heavy-handed government solution to a nonexistent problem than the Biden Federal Communications Commission’s recent push to impose burdensome net neutrality regulations.

“So what is net neutrality, Mr. President?

“Well, at its core, it’s the idea that internet service providers shouldn’t prioritize or block certain internet traffic at the expense of other traffic.

“Understood in that way, it’s a concept that has strong bipartisan support.

“But that’s not what we’re talking about with the Biden FCC’s proposal.

“The Biden FCC wants to use the idea of net neutrality as a cover to assert broad new government powers over the internet using rules that were designed for telephone monopolies back during the Great Depression.

“Mr. President, the net neutrality regime the Biden FCC is contemplating was actually put in place once before, during the Obama administration.

“And the results were predictable.

“The Obama FCC’s measure opened the door to a whole host of new government regulations, including price regulations.

“And broadband investment declined as a result.

“That was a problem for Americans generally, who benefit when the United States is at the forefront of internet growth and expansion.

“And it was particularly bad news for Americans in rural states like South Dakota.

“Getting broadband to rural communities is already more challenging than installing broadband in cities or suburbs, and the possibility of heavier regulations acted as a further disincentive to expanding access.

“Fast forward to 2017.

“The FCC under Chairman Pai voted to repeal the heavy-handed net neutrality regulations passed by the Obama FCC – a prospect that was greeted with absolute hysteria from Democrats.

“We were told that the internet as we know it would disappear.

“That providers would slow speeds to a crawl.

“That our freedom of speech was threatened.

“Well, Mr. President, I don’t think I need to tell anyone that none of what Democrats predicted came to pass.

“As anyone who has been on the internet lately knows, the internet has not just survived, but thrived.

“Innovation has flourished.

“Competition has increased.

“The internet remains a vehicle for free and open discourse.

“And internet speeds have not only not slowed down, they’ve gotten faster and faster.

“Despite the explosive growth in internet usage during the pandemic, American networks had no problem keeping up with demand, delivering the reliable service Americans have come to expect.

“Contrast that with Europe – where internet regulation is much more heavy-handed – which struggled to deal with increased internet usage.

“In fact, European service providers slowed internet speeds to maintain connectivity.

“The United States is now a leader in adopting next-generation telecommunications services like 5G and advanced Wi-Fi while Europe struggles to keep pace.

“So, Mr. President, as I said, the Biden FCC’s net neutrality proposal is a solution – a heavy-handed government solution – in search of a problem.

“And it’s likely to create problems where none exist.

“Given the Biden administration’s demonstrated willingness to use its regulatory power to advance its far-left economic and social agendas, it’s not hard to imagine the Biden administration using its new net neutrality powers to shape Americans’ internet experience for its own ends.

“The FCC’s net neutrality proposal could hasten the demise of the free and open internet it’s allegedly supposed to protect.

“On the practical side, as FCC Commissioner Carr – a Republican appointee who opposes this proposal – has pointed out, there’s also good reason to fear that this measure could drive up Americans’ internet costs – and open the door to new taxes and fees on Americans’ internet bills.

“And of course, Mr. President, as I said, last time heavy-handed net neutrality regulations were put in place, broadband investment declined in response.

“And there’s good reason to believe that the same thing would happen this time.

“The United States could quickly lose its place as a leader in internet technology.

“And Americans could lose out on the benefits of living in a country that’s at the forefront of internet innovation.

“Mr. President, at the risk of sounding like a broken record, I have to emphasize again just how much the Biden FCC’s proposal is a solution in search of a problem.

“There is absolutely no reason – none – for heavy-handed government interference in a free, open, and thriving sector of our economy.

“And there is every reason to oppose a proposal that would not only threaten to raise prices and decrease innovation but would give the federal government – and the Biden administration – a dangerous amount of control over Americans’ internet experience.

“I’ve led a letter with more than 40 of my colleagues calling for the Biden FCC to abandon its proposal.

“And I will continue to urge my colleagues of both parties to oppose this alarming measure.

“Because if the Biden FCC has its way, we may soon find ourselves dealing with the very opposite of net neutrality.

“Mr. President, I yield the floor.”