U.S. Rep. Louis Gohmert, the Texas Republican firebrand, unleashed his hellfire on Federal Communications Chairman Tom Wheeler Wednesday over the “Net Neutrality” rules it passed late last month by a 3-2 vote along party lines.
With that vote, the FCC essentially turned the free and open Internet into a utility subject to regulation — and regulate it it did.
The exchange between Gohmert and Wheeler began serenely, giving no evidence of the storm that was about to come.
After a few preliminary questions, the conservative Congressman quoted Wheeler as saying that Congress had asked the agency to examine Internet rules.
“What from Congress asked the FCC to look at rules regarding the Internet?” he asked.
When Wheeler brought up the 1996 Telecommunications Act, you could hear the storm clouds begin to gather in Gohmert’s voice.
“I would submit to you that something in 1996 had nothing to do with wanting you to take charge of the Internet,” Gohmert said.
“I would also thank you for your willingness to leave some room for exploratory business models and new business models — that’s really so gracious of you,” he added, his voice dripping with sarcasm.
“Because before the FCC stepped in, everyone was able to explore new business models! You’re playing God with the Internet … That’s not your job.”
He then referred back to the 19-year-old Telecommunications Act.
“Congress wasn’t asking you to take over the Internet,” he added, referring to the FCC’s congressional charter.
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