At a hearing before the House Communications Subcommittee on Tuesday, FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler defended the net neutrality rulemaking notice that was introduced last week by the FCC and that seeks comment (among other things) on whether paid prioritization arrangements among carriers and website operators should be allowed on a case-by-case basis. Although the hearing also touched on issues that relate to upcoming incentive auctions of broadcast television spectrum and the FCC’s treatment of broadcast joint sales agreements, last week’s notice on net neutrality dominated the spotlight. While Republicans argued against the need for any rules that protect net neutrality, Democrats related their concerns to Wheeler that the FCC’s latest proposal does not go far enough. Objecting to the FCC’s “insistence on attempting to regulate the Internet under rules . . . .adopted to regulate the monopoly telephone network of the past,” House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-MI) advised Wheeler that “the Internet has flourished under the current light regulatory touch, and subjecting it to burdensome regulations is a leap in the wrong direction.” Upton also voiced fears about the implications of the FCC’s alternate plan to classify broadband as a Title II telecommunications service, warning that such a step “would be harmful to consumers, businesses and the future of the Internet as we know it.” As Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) recommended that the FCC undertake a cost-benefit analysis to determine “the actual cost to consumers and the industry” of any net neutrality regulations that are enacted, Rep. Anna Eshoo (D-CA) suggested to Wheeler that paid prioritization should be banned outright as such arrangements represent “a fundamental departure from the Internet as we know it.”  Explaining that, under Section 706 of the 1996 Telecommunications Act, “anything that is anticompetitive or anti-consumer is competitively unreasonable and can and should be blocked,” Wheeler replied, “that becomes the trigger for how you deal with paid prioritization.” Wheeler also pointed to language in the recent D.C. Circuit decision that overturned the 2010 Open Internet order and that refers to the “virtuous cycle” in which content drives the need for conduits and, in turn, drives the need for more content. Emphasizing that “this cycle is . . . what [Section] 706 authorizes us to protect,” Wheeler told Eshoo: “if there is something that interferes with that virtuous cycle—which I believe paid prioritization does—we can move against it.”