Commissioners booked for first 2011 Hill visit


The topic: Network neutrality. Two House panels have put it on this week’s schedule. Judiciary will go first, with a session scheduled for 2/15/11, and Energy and Commerce will follow the next day. E&C will be hosting all five commissioners.

Judiciary has referred the matter to its Subcommittee on Intellectual Property, Competition and the Internet. The hearing is scheduled for 1:30 PM on Tuesday 2/15/11. Thus far only three witnesses are on the schedule: Larry Downes, Senior Adjunct Fellow, TechFreedom; Brett Glass, Proprietor, LARIAT; and Gigi B. Sohn, President and Co-Founder, Public Knowledge. The session is entitled “Ensuring Competition on the Internet: Net Neutrality and Antitrust.” Bob Goodlatte (R-VA) is the Chair.

Over at E&C, the title is a bit more colorful. They’re calling it “Network Neutrality and Internet Regulation: Warranted or More Economic Harm than Good?” and have turned it over to the Subcommittee on Communications and Technology under Greg Walden (R-OR). The committee described the session, saying “The five commissioners of the Federal Communications Commission will be called to testify about the controversial network neutrality rules that put the commission in charge of how networks are managed, how technology partnerships are formed, and how the private sector invests in communications to provide new services and options to consumers.” The 10/16/11 session is scheduled to begin at 10 AM.

Meanwhile, there are already signs of partisan strife building at Energy and Commerce. Ranking Member Henry Waxman (D-CA) and Gene Green (D-TX) have fired off a letter to Chair Fred Upton (R-MI) and John Shimkus (R-IL) complaining about the witness list invited to testify about an environmental matter. They are asking for fair and balanced hearings, and say that in this case, the minority has one out of four witnesses in the first panel, which they said was acceptable, but none out of three on a second panel, which they said was not.