Washington

McDowell: Better Than Average Chance Net Neutrality Rules Will Be Stayed

Says they had been "gummed up" in the Paperwork Reduction Act vetting process 6/30/2011 05:28:17 PM Eastern

Republican FCC Commissioner Robert McDowell says he thinks that there is a "better than average chance" that a court, likely the D.C. circuit, will stay the FCC's network neutrality rules.

That came in an appearance June 29 on Fox News' online program Power Play with Chris Stirewalt.

McDowell dissented from the rules, which passed in a party line vote Dec. 21, 2010, but won't go into effect even if they are not stayed, until October or November. McDowell pointed out that they had been "gummed up" in the Paperwork Reduction Act vetting process. That interview came before the FCC signaled Thursday that it was done with its vetting and ready to send it to the Office of Management and Budget, but that still means more vetting and months before the rules take effect, so McDowell's point still holds.

McDowell said there are "a lot" of potential appellants. Those won't include the nation's biggest cable operator, Comcast, which has pledged not to challenge the rules as part of its NBCU merger agreement, and would be subject to network neutrality rules even if they are stayed per that NBCU order.

House Republicans this week renewed their attempt to roll back the regs via an amendment to the 2012 appropriations bill defunding FCC implementation, a gambit they tried with the stop-gap spending bill last spring without success. The House also passed a resolution to invalidate the rules but that, too, was not getting any traction in the Democratically-controlled Senate. McDowell cited the appropriations move, but pointed out that was tough given the Senate makeup.

That led up to his observation that it would more likely be overturned in court once the "gumming-up" by OMB over paperwork was through and the rules could be noticed and challenged.

March