FCC Chairman Ajit Pai has received a scalding letter from House Committee on Energy and Commerce effectively telling him to play nicer with poor people and Democrats.
Signed by Committee Chairman Frank Pallone (Democrat representative of New Jersey) and Communications and Technology subcommittee Chairman Mike Doyle (Democratic representative of Pennsylvania), the letter accuses Pai of representing the interest of corporations over consumers, ignoring questions from Democrat politicians and inadequately representing the objectives of the FCC.
“Under your leadership, the FCC has failed repeatedly to act in the public interest and placed the interest of corporations over consumers,” the letter states.
“The FCC should be working to advance the goals of public safety, consumer protection, affordable access and connectivity across the United States. To that end, it is incumbent upon the Committee’s leadership and its members to oversee the activities of the FCC.”
While under the protection of a Republican majority across US politics, Pai has been freely swinging the machete to cut public programmes and reduce the influence of the FCC. The destruction of net neutrality is of course what has grabbed the headlines, but Pai has also overseen the deregulation of broadcasters and gutted the Lifeline subsidies which so many families rely on to bridge the digital divide.
These are only a few of the accusations pointed towards Pai by the Democrat politicians, but they are not wrong. The influence and footprint of the FCC has been diluted under Pai, though only time will tell whether it has created too much of a light-touch regulatory landscape. The Democrats clearly believe Pai is impacting the US negatively, but they were never going to be nice after the November elections win.
“Not only have you have failed on numerous occasions to provide Democratic members of this Committee with responses to their inquiries, you have also repeatedly denied or delayed responding to legitimate information requests from the public about agency operations,” the letter states.
“These actions have denied the public of a full and fair understanding of how the FCC under your leadership has arrived at public policy decisions that impact Americans every day in communities across the country.”
One thing which is clear is the relationship with between Pai and the two Democrats is hardly on the friendliest of terms. That would be putting it politely, but Pallone and Doyle have painted a target on Pai.
Moving forward, Pai will no-longer be able to frolic freely through the offices of the FCC. Pallone and Doyle have promised ‘oversight time’, with the Committee reassuming its traditional role of oversight to ensure the agency is acting in the best interest of the public and consistent with its legislative authority. In short, Pallone and Doyle will be breathing down Pai’s collar at every corner.
Pai might have enjoyed freedom over the last two years, but that is all about to change.