Op-eds and Articles

The Hill: Can this Congress agree to agree?

By / 5.28.2015

Political gridlock is a problem, but in a 50-50 country you have to expect some issues will be hard to move forward.  In today’s Washington, however, Congress is stuck and immobilized even on issues where most of its members agree.  That’s gridlock on steroids, and it’s destructive to our civics.

Consider the recent debate over the Internet protection rules called net neutrality. These rules aren’t controversial – leaders of both parties and probably two thirds or more of the members of Congress agree that all traffic should move freely on the Internet and that Internet providers should not be able to block lawful websites or relegate competitors to second-class “slow lanes” online.

But despite this broad consensus, Congress has refused to act, leaving net neutrality in a litigation limbo that could last 3 years or more.

Some Republicans refuse to pass a net neutrality law because they aren’t willing to give a President they dislike a win, even when they agree with him.  Some Democrats won’t budge because they would rather hold on to the more intrusive “utility-style” style regulatory approach employed by the FCC that goes far beyond what is necessary to protect the open Internet.

The result is a too-familiar story of a government that fails to act through normal channels, leaving the rest of the government to scramble for “work-arounds” and half-measure solutions.

The Federal Communications Commission has attempted to fill the gap left by a congressional inaction with its own set of Internet regulations.  But due to the politics of the agency and potential gaps in its legal authority, the FCC rules go far beyond consensus net neutrality reforms, putting the entire Internet ecosystem at risk.

Continue reading at The Hill.