Appearing before the House Communications and Internet subcommittee on Wednesday, FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski defended the FCC’s net neutrality rules against members of the House Republican majority who criticized the rules as an unnecessary, unwarranted exercise of regulatory authority that exceeds boundaries set by Congress. By a 3-2 vote, the FCC adopted net neutrality rules in December that prohibit broadband Internet service providers (ISPs) from blocking or degrading the flow of lawful web content across their networks. Although the FCC maintains that the rules are needed to prevent the establishment of priority Internet “lanes” and similar practices that limit access to ISP networks, congressional Republicans have taken the FCC to task for overstepping its authority. On the eve of Wednesday’s hearing, House Communications and Internet Subcommittee Chairman Greg Walden (R-OR) unveiled plans to offer an amendment to the federal budget package that would bar the FCC from using budgeted funds to implement the net neutrality order. Resolutions have also been introduced in both chambers of Congress to block the net neutrality rules, although observers admit that the Republican-led effort is likely to fail in the Senate. As House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton asked Genachowski “why you would put the government in charge of the Internet,” Walden charged: “the FCC argues it can regulate anything if, in its opinion, doing so would encourage broadband deployment.” Denying, however, that the FCC is setting itself up as a gatekeeper over the Internet, Genachowski told the panel that “we’re simply saying that certain conduct by the companies that do control access to the Internet aren’t consistent with Internet freedom and shouldn’t be permitted.” Adding that “Internet freedom and openness is essential to maintaining American leadership,” Genachowski further maintained that “a sensible open Internet framework promotes significant private investment throughout the broadband economy.” Agreeing with Genachowski, Rep. Anna Eshoo (D-CA) argued that net neutrality rules are necessary as she warned: “without some clear rules of the road, large corporations can carve up the Internet into fast and slow lanes, charging a toll for content and blocking innovators from entering the information superhighway.” Walden countered, however, that, “in the end, these issues are better determined by network engineers, entrepreneurs and consumers acting in a vigorous marketplace, not the subjective politicized judgments of a federal agency.”