Congressman Marsha Blackburn today secured an amendment to the Fiscal Year 2015 Financial Services Appropriations Bill that would prevent the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) from trampling on the rights of states when it comes to municipal broadband
. Blackburn’s amendment was approved with a vote of 223-200.
Municipal broadband projects have had a mixed bag of results.There have been some successes and there have also been some spectacular failures that have left taxpayers on the hook. Blackburn’s amendment prohibits any taxpayer funds from being used by the FCC to pre-empt state municipal broadband laws.
“The People’s House has spoken. We don’t need unelected bureaucrats in Washington telling our states what they can and can’t do with respect to protecting their limited taxpayer dollars and private enterprises,” Blackburn said. “As a former State Senator in Tennessee I strongly believe in States’ rights. That’s why I have found it deeply troubling that FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler has repeatedly stated this past year that he intends to pre-empt states’ rights when it comes to the role of state policy over municipal broadband.
“Chairman Wheeler’s statements pose a direct challenge on the constitutionality of states’ sovereign functions. It wrongly assumes Washington knows what is best and ignores the fact that the right answer doesn’t always come from the top-down.”
This past June, Congressman Blackburn was joined by 59 of her House colleagues in sending a letter to FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler stating their concerns and requesting a response to a list of questions. The FCC has still not responded to this request. The FCC has also failed to respond to a similar request made by members of the United States Senate.
“It seems that the FCC is content to tell our states how they will manage their sovereign economic affairs, but they won’t answer to the Congress who is responsible for exercising oversight over the agency,” stated Blackburn. “Inserting the FCC into our states’ economic and fiscal affairs sets a dangerous precedent and violates state sovereignty in a manner that warrants deeper examination.
“This Congress cannot sit idly by and let an independent agency trample on our states’ rights. This is an issue that should be left to our states and if it comes to a point where we need a national standard then that debate should be held by Congress with participation from the American people.”
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