The following are prepared remarks by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s (R-KY) regarding the harmful, Obama-era internet regulation and the Federal Communications Commission’s proposal to repeal it:
“One of the great advances of our time has been the development and expansion of the Internet and wireless technologies. The Internet connects people across the globe in an unprecedented way. It brings together producers and consumers, students and educators, and even members of the Senate with our constituents. It’s difficult to exaggerate the impact the Internet has on our society and our economy each and every day. Even a few decades ago, the technologies many of us take for granted today would have been totally unfathomable.
“But the success of the Internet wasn’t an accident. Today’s Internet – and all the incredible innovations that utilize it – aren’t the product of unnecessary and burdensome government regulations that hindered growth. Instead, they were the direct result of a bipartisan desire to create an environment of advancement – one that utilized a light-regulatory touch.
“Innovators were free to create and develop what they wanted to, without having to think about complying with overbearing Washington regulation. And as the Internet grows, so does the United States. Our nation has led the world in Internet technology, and citizens throughout the country and the world have enjoyed the benefits.
“However, the previous administration seemed bent on subjecting the Internet to a whole host of new regulations – rules designed in the age of the rotary phone and rooted in the railroad era of the 1800s. Through unprecedented government overreach, the Obama Administration argued that this change would fix a problem. But there wasn’t a problem that needed fixing. Therefore at the behest of President Obama in 2015, the partisan majority at the Federal Communications Commission rejected our decades-old approach and reclassified broadband Internet access.
“This overreach subjected it to new burdens and regulations and threatened the marketplace freedom and innovation that brought us the Internet we have come to know today. It shouldn’t shock any of my colleagues to hear that an increase in burdensome regulations created uncertainty for businesses of all sizes and negatively impacted investment. In the last two years, broadband investment has suffered a serious decline, even though many Americans, including large numbers in rural states like Kentucky, lack access to crucial Internet services at home.
“Earlier this year, President Trump changed direction from the previous administration. He elevated Ajit Pai to serve as the Chairman of the FCC, and tomorrow, the Commission will vote to repeal the misguided 2015 rule. Chairman Pai submitted a proposal to restore freedom to the Internet and to classify broadband Internet access once again as an information service, just like it was until 2015. When the FCC votes tomorrow, they will be voting to return the Internet to a consumer-driven marketplace free of innovation-stifling regulations.
“Opponents of Chairman Pai’s plan have expressed their concerns about unfair or disruptive business practices that may hurt consumers’ access to the Internet. However, his proposal will actually restore the Federal Trade Commission’s authority to protect consumers and police companies that engage in unfair practices.
“Chairman Pai’s proposal will also require Internet Service Providers to clearly disclose how they treat their customers’ data so that consumers can choose the services that are right for them. I look forward to their vote in support of the open Internet and to Congress’ actions in the future to keep the Internet open for consumers in a lasting way.
“Before I continue onto another matter, I feel that it is necessary to take a moment to discuss the vitriolic and divisive debate over this topic. As my colleagues know, I am a strong defender of political speech, and I have fought for decades to protect the rights of all Americans to question government policies. However, the discussion on this issue took on a new tone. While the First Amendment protects political speech, it is no excuse for bad conduct.
“Instead of debating the effects of a proposal, some of the Far Left engaged in personal attacks, even going as low as to promulgate attacks citing Chairman Pai’s children. This type of behavior does nothing to elevate our nation’s discourse or forward a particular policy. I hope that we can all agree that this type of harassment deserves universal condemnation.”