GOP-Run Washington in 2025 Could Void Pending FCC Regulations

The Congressional Review Act could threaten new broadband rules teed up by FCC Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel

GOP-Run Washington in 2025 Could Void Pending FCC Regulations
Photo of U.S. Capitol, used with permission

WASHINGTON, June 24, 2024 ­– A 1996 law gives Congress and the President the power to overturn federal regulations issued within 60 legislative days prior to final adjournment each year.

The Congressional Review Act, passed to give Congress more oversight over administrative agencies, could potentially endanger newly adopted regulations under FCC Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel.

In the months ahead, the FCC could restrict broadband contracts with landlords and ban early termination fees in bundled pay-TV agreements signed by consumers. Rosenworcel’s effort runs the risk of nullification under the CRA if President Joe Biden lost his re-election bid and the House and Senate went Republican.

Because Congress is expected to be out nearly all of August and October in an election year, the 60-day window, also known as the “lookback provision,” has already begun, according to one report

“The intent of the lookback mechanism is to prevent an agency from waiting until the closing days of a congressional session to submit a rule to Congress, thus denying the House and Senate adequate time to review the rule,” according to an analysis by the Congressional Research Service.

Rosenworcel’s broadband agenda has been controversial, triggering lawsuits over Net Neutrality and digital discrimination rules that Internet Service Providers and their trade associations have said Congress did not authorize.

Rosenworcel’s bulk billing ban would likely give tenants the ability, without penalty, to opt out of service contracts between internet providers and property owners. Broadband and low-income advocates have expressed concern about the plan and want Rosenworcel to reconsider.

Regarding early termination fees, cable advocates are concerned an ETF ban could include bundled services, such as video and internet packages.

Meanwhile, at the Federal Trade Commission, Chair Lina Khan has proposed a rulemaking to simplify the process of canceling subscriptions, as part of the Biden administration's efforts to crack down on junk fees. The stated goal is to make canceling a subscription as easy as it is to sign up. Khan has called it “click to cancel.”

The precedent set early in the Trump administration may foreshadow potential action by a GOP-controlled Washington next year. In 2017, a Republican-controlled Congress passed and Trump signed a resolution that voided broadband privacy regulations adopted by the Democratic-controlled FCC the previous year.

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