Last week’s D.C. Circuit court decision in the Comcast-BitTorrent case and the effects of that ruling on the FCC’s ability to regulate broadband services were spotlighted Wednesday at a Senate Commerce Committee hearing. Committee chairman Jay Rockefeller (D-WV) promised FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski at the hearing: “if there is a need to write the law to provide consumers, the FCC, and industry with a new [regulatory] framework, I as chairman will take that task on.” In his opening statement to the Senate panel, Genachowski made it clear that, in his view, the “mission” of broadband expansion outlined in the National Broadband Plan (NBP) “is completely consistent with the Communications Act” and that the FCC’s actions in implementing the NBP “will be rooted in a sound legal foundation, designed to promote investment, innovation, competition and consumer interests.” With respect to the FCC’s approach to net neutrality and the NBP in the wake of the Comcast ruling, Rockefeller advised Genachowski in the near term to use all of the FCC’s “existing authority” in upholding the agency’s 2005 policy statement on net neutrality, as Rockefeller promised to spearhead legislation in the long term, if necessary, that would give the FCC statutory authority to mandate net neutrality. Declaring, “I’m not a big fan of the light touch,” Senator Byron Dorgan (D-ND) urged Genachowski to “implement an aggressive broadband plan.” That advice, however, did not sit well with Senator John Ensign (DNV) and Republican members of the committee. Voicing dismay with “how the [NBP] turned out,” Ensign charged that the NBP calls for a “limited” government role in the broadband sector, but “follows up with dozens and dozens of suggestions for just the opposite.” Targeting suggestions that the FCC could regulate the Internet by reclassifying broadband as a Title II telecommunications service, ranking committee member Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-TX) warned that to move in such a fashion without explicit congressional consent could put the FCC’s legitimacy ‘in question.” When asked by Ensign if the FCC was “currently considering moving [broadband] from Title I to Title II,” Genachowski replied that he has asked FCC staff members “to take a look and determine . . . a solid legal path forward.”