FCC skips Congress, approves Net regs

Feb. 26, 2015, Fairfax, Va.—Americans for Limited Government President Rick Manning today issued the following statement on the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) 3-2 vote in favor of new so-called “net neutrality” regulations (partial transcript of meeting enclosed):

“The FCC has voted to do that which Congress has denied — and that’s essentially to rewrite the 1934 Communications Act to treat broadband Internet as a utility under Title II. Whatever the merits of ‘net neutrality,’ the fact is that this entire process has been designed to avert the traditional, constitutional lawmaking process. It also creates much regulatory uncertainty, since broadband was previously treated as exempt ‘information services’ providers by the FCC in 2002. This is a dysfunctional regulatory precedent where an agency can simply change its interpretation of law depending on the partisan composition of the board. That is not the rule of law, it is rule by executive decree. Why even have a Congress?

“This new rule, when it is finally published, as anyone familiar with public utilities knows, will guarantee higher rates, less competition, and a regulatory burden that stifles innovation. It is nothing more than authoritarian overreach, an extra-legal assault on our system of government. The Obama regime continues its track record of disregard and disdain for precedent, the Constitution and simple fairness.”

Interview Availability: Please contact Americans for Limited Government at (703) 383-0880 ext. 106 or at media@limitgov.org to arrange an interview with ALG experts including ALG President Rick Manning.

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Senators Sullivan and Nelson ask tough questions of NTIA at Internet governance hearing

Legal authority to perform Internet Assigned Numbers Authority functions transition to the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers and the global multistakeholder community questioned

Feb. 25, 2015, Fairfax, Va.—Americans for Limited Government President Rick Manning today issued the following statement praising Senator Dan Sullivan (R-Alaska) and Senator Bill Nelson (D-Fla.) for the questions they asked National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) head Lawrence Strickling at today’s Internet governance hearing at the Senate Commerce Committee:

“Americans for Limited Government strongly praises Senator Nelson and Senator Sullivan for asking the tough questions of NTIA and asserting Congressional prerogatives over any transfer of Internet governance to the international community. These are the questions that need to be asked of an administration that is hell-bent on averting Congressional votes granting legal authority for the Internet transfer, and so Congress should continue to deny that authority. No less than the First Amendment protections for the Internet afforded by a government contract are at stake.

“In fact, we are astonished that almost one year after NTIA announced the Internet governance transfer, the agency still refuses to provide the agency’s actual legal authority document to perform the transfer. It is amazing Mr. Strickling was unable to assure Senator Sullivan that he could produce the legal opinion, despite previous numerous Congressional requests, media inquiries from the Wall Street Journal, and even an almost one-year old Freedom of Information Act request from Americans for Limited Government. It is becoming increasingly concerning that the agency may have proceeded with the Internet transfer without ever having received even an internal legal opinion of the authority to perform the transfer.”

Attachments:

Senator Dan Sullivan questioning NTIA head Lawrence Strickling, Feb. 25, 2015 at http://www.senate.gov/isvp/?type=LIVE&comm=commerce&filename=commerce022515&stt=01:26:25

Sullivan: “There’s been a lot of articles in the paper very concerned about this, as I certainly am, but one of those has actually raised a very important issue that I’d also like you to address is your legal authority to do this. Again, another issue with this administration I have a problem with is taking action where you have no legal authority. Under the Constitution, the Congress has the power to transfer federal government property. [IANA functions] is federal government property, it is valuable property, and I don’t think you’ve been authorized by Congress to take this action yet.”

Strickling: “There is no government property that is the subject of this contract. All the contract does is designate ICANN to perform the IANA functions. They were given no assets of the United States with which to perform these functions. The domain name file is—“

Sullivan: “Is there a Commerce Department legal opinion on this issue?”

Strickling: “Yes there is, sir.”

Sullivan: “Can we see that?”

Strickling: “I’ll take that back, I’m not in a position to say yes or no but I will [take your request back].”

Senator Bill Nelson questioning NTIA head Lawrence Strickling, Feb. 25, 2015 at http://www.senate.gov/isvp/?type=LIVE&comm=commerce&filename=commerce022515&stt=02:11:25

Nelson: “Last year, in the omnibus appropriations, a rider was placed that prevents NTIA from spending funds on the transition to IANA contract before September 30 of this year, 2015. Can you explain NTIA’s interpretation of that rider, Mr. Secretary?”

Strickling: “We have interpreted that resolution or interpreted that language to prevent us from allowing the transition to occure before September 30… In consultations with members and staffs up here on the Hill, we sought to clarify whether that would in any way restrict our ability to monitor the transition planning process which is going on in the community, and is not subject to any restrictions in the legislation and in fact as you know the rider imposes reporting requirements on us. It was clear Congress intended us to continue to monitor the process and report back on what’s happening. And then within that we had also indicated that our need and I think the needs of serving American interests that we provide feedback where we thought it was appropriate, and we have engaged in that. Again, I’m very careful not to steer decision-making one way or antoher but I think through a series of questions that we’ve been asking and will continue to ask we are trying to make sure the process considers all the issues before reaching a final result. But we take very seriously the fact that no transition will take place before September 30.”

Nelson: “What happens if that rider is continued?”

Strickling: “Again, I wouldn’t want to speculate on that. I’m hopeful that the process within the community will result in a proposal that will demonstrate to Congress and the valid concerns people have up here about the process that in fact it’s being handled in a responsible fashion, that the transition will meet the conditions, and that there will be no need to extend that particular provision past September 30.”

Nelson: “Well, is the world going to stop revolving if it is extended?”

Strickling: “I don’t like to speculate on what will or won’t happen in the future, but I’m pretty confident the world won’t stop revolving, yes, sir.”

Interview Availability: Please contact Americans for Limited Government at (703) 383-0880 ext. 106 or at media@limitgov.org to arrange an interview with ALG experts including ALG President Rick Manning.

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ALG responds to Rep. Emmer letter on fast track trade promotion authority on TPP

Feb. 25, 2015, Fairfax, Va.—Americans for Limited Government President Rick Manning today in a letter to Rep. Tom Emmer (R-Minn.) and House Republicans responded to the Congressman’s push in favor of granting fast track trade promotion authority (TPA) to President Barack Obama on the Trans-Pacific Partnership.

“There continues to be a misconception that TPA will allow Congress to set objectives for negotiations, in particular as they relate to the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade deal,” wrote Manning in his letter.

Manning was responding to a dear colleague letter from Rep. Emmer obtained by Americans for Limited Government that told fellow House members that “Through TPA, Congress establishes the negotiating objectives for the Administration and ensures that Congress is consulted closely throughout the negotiations.”

To which, Manning responded, “Congress can demand anything it wants, but President Obama is under no legal requirement to follow those demands. In fact, the only way that Congress has to impose its will on a negotiating process is to force any treaty submitted to be subjected to full and transparent scrutiny, including the ability to amend objectionable sections. Under TPA, this ability to fix highly objectionable areas is voted away.”

The Americans for Limited Government letter to Emmer also noted that the Obama administration was already disregarding Congressional appeals for the trade representative to address currency manipulation: “Given that the U.S. Trade Representative testified earlier this year before the Senate that he chose to disregard a letter signed by a majority of the House and Senate urging that currency manipulation be included in any prospective deal, it is clear that President Obama has no more regard for Congressional input in this area than he has shown on immigration.”

Trade promotion authority is expected come up in both the House and Senate as early as next month.

Attachments:

Americans for Limited Government letter to Rep. Tom Emmer, Feb. 25, 2015 at http://getliberty.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/02/LettertoEmmerandHouseGOP2-25-15.pdf

Interview Availability: Please contact Americans for Limited Government at (703) 383-0880 ext. 106 or at media@limitgov.org to arrange an interview with ALG experts including ALG President Rick Manning.

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ALG reacts to Obama Keystone veto

Feb. 24, 2015, Fairfax, Va.—Americans for Limited Government President Rick Manning today issued the following statement in response to President Barack Obama’s veto of the Keystone XL pipeline:

“President Obama’s veto of the bi-partisan Keystone XL pipeline legislation is just one more example of this President’s my way or the highway approach.  This veto should strengthen Republican resolve to stand on principle and lay down legislative markers for 2017, rather than kowtow to a President who views his role as Obstructionist in Chief.”

Interview Availability: Please contact Americans for Limited Government at (703) 383-0880 ext. 106 or at media@limitgov.org to arrange an interview with ALG experts including ALG President Rick Manning.

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NTIA fails to produce Internet giveaway contingency plan

Feb. 18, 2015, Fairfax, Va.—Americans for Limited Government President Rick Manning today issued the following statement condemning the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) response to Congress’ omnibus bill directive to submit a report due January 30 “regarding any recourse that would be available to the United States if the decision is made to transition to a new contract and any subsequent decisions made following such transfer of Internet governance are deleterious to the United States,” in which the agency stated it would only “revisit this question during the planning process and when evaluating the ultimate ICANN-submitted proposal to ensure that the final plan is not deleterious to the interests of the United States and its Internet stakeholders”:

“Rarely has Washington seen a more brazenly arrogant response from a bureaucrat to the U.S. Congress as in NTIA’s response to congressional prohibition of the Internet giveaway, including its failure to produce a congressionally-required agency contingency plan for administering the domain name system in case ICANN goes rogue. Based on the so-called ‘report,’ it is clear as day that NTIA intends to proceed with the Internet giveaway this year if the multistakeholder community is deemed prepared, despite a clear prohibition against doing so in the 2015 omnibus funding bill passed in December.

“This bureaucratic slap in the face to Congress and the power of the purse should be forcefully and unilaterally rejected by all members of Congress by forcing NTIA to renew the contract for at least a two-year period.

“Given numerous proposals by multistakeholders to reform the administration of ICANN — which will become a global monopoly for running the domain name system should the transition go through — Congress should engage in an aggressive investigation of NTIA’s oversight of ICANN and their actions to unilaterally turn over control of Internet governance to the organization without any clear authorization to do so.

“While Internet governance may seem archaic to some, no less than the constitutional protection of free speech rights afforded through the government contract for every single person who uses the Internet are at stake. Given the audacity of NTIA in failing to produce a contingency plan should Internet governance break down post-transition, Congress needs to shut down this process immediately.”

Interview Availability: Please contact Americans for Limited Government at (703) 383-0880 ext. 106 or at media@limitgov.org to arrange an interview with ALG experts including ALG President Rick Manning.

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Renew ICANN contract to stop Internet transition

Feb. 13, 2015, Fairfax, Va.—Americans for Limited Government President Rick Manning today issued the following statement responding to the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) CEO Fadi Chehade’s recent comments that “Those who are genuinely committed to the quality of the proposal for the US government, are correct that we should not put deadlines. But those who for their own purposes try to delay the process, should make no mistake that we know that the most powerful tool to kill something is to delay it”:

“Mr. Chehade is correct. The surest way to stop something from happening is to first delay it. And that is exactly what Congress should do, by insisting that the Commerce Department renew the current Internet governance contract for at least two more years. ICANN obviously is very concerned about its so-called ‘window of opportunity,’ so Congress should deny it. What’s the rush?

“To those committed to the freedom that the First Amendment affords through government control over Internet governance, there should be no rush to sacrifice those protections so lightly, and without any Congressional involvement as provided for under the Constitution. The free and open Internet depends on there being a remedy in the event of censorship. Right now, there is Commerce Department control and oversight over the contract with ICANN, judicial remedy and, ultimately, the difficulty of passing legislation through Congress all serve as firewalls against foreign capture of these functions.”

Interview Availability: Please contact Americans for Limited Government at (703) 383-0880 ext. 106 or at media@limitgov.org to arrange an interview with ALG experts including ALG President Rick Manning.

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Senate GOP modifies Internet resolution to make clear no approval for Internet giveaway

Feb. 5, 2015, Fairfax, Va.—Americans for Limited Government President Rick Manning today issued the following statement thanking Senate Republicans for including additional language in a resolution raising awareness of the Internet giveaway that states “Nothing in this resolution shall be construed as congressional approval of any proposal by ICANN to transition the stewardship of the functions of the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority to the global multistakeholder community”:

“We thank Senators Hatch and Blunt for modifying their resolution to include language that makes it clear that Congress has not approved the Commerce Department relinquishment of its Internet stewardship functions property. Government oversight of those functions with its First Amendment umbrella has protected the free and open Internet for almost 17 years, and that is not property that should be relinquished lightly, and certainly not without a vote of Congress as the Constitution provides for.

“The fact is, there will never be protections offered by ICANN and the international community as broad as the First Amendment and federal court remedy that currently exists today. If the Commerce Department were to engage in censorship via its oversight of Internet governance, there would be a clear remedy in federal court. Without the government oversight, however, as was seen in the 2005 Ninth Circuit decision, Verisign v. McNeil, the non-profit ICANN cannot be sued on First Amendment grounds, since they are not a government entity.

“For that reason, we are comfortable with the current Internet governance contract with ICANN continuing indefinitely. The way to keep the Internet free and open is to keep it under the protection of the First Amendment.”

Interview Availability: Please contact Americans for Limited Government at (703) 383-0880 ext. 106 or at media@limitgov.org to arrange an interview with ALG experts including ALG President Rick Manning.

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Senate Dems block Homeland Security funding again, ALG urges bill to the floor

Feb. 5, 2015, Fairfax, Va.—Americans for Limited Government President Rick Manning today issued the following statement urging Senate Democrats to cease their filibuster of Department of Homeland Security funding:

For the third time, Senate Democrats are jeopardizing homeland security to protect President Obama’s unconstitutional action granting amnesty to millions of illegal immigrants. With all the threats facing the homeland, now is not the time to allow politics to interfere with our nation’s security. Let the bill come to the floor as is.

“If Senate Democrats wish to offer an amendment to the Department of Homeland Security funding, they can do that, but they need to allow the bill to be acted upon. If they can muster the votes to change it, it will be changed. As it stands, funding expires at the end of the month, and the world is not getting any safer.

“In the meantime, we urge the Senate majority to continue holding cloture votes on this important piece of legislation so that the process can move forward, and members have an opportunity to make their voices heard. The House has done its job. Now it’s time for the Senate to get to work.”

Attachments:

Feb 05 53 (52-47) Rejected On Cloture on the Motion to Proceed H.R. 240
Feb 04 52 (53-47) Rejected On Cloture on the Motion to Proceed H.R. 240
Feb 03 51 (51-48) Rejected On Cloture on the Motion to Proceed H.R. 240

Interview Availability: Please contact Americans for Limited Government at (703) 383-0880 ext. 106 or at media@limitgov.org to arrange an interview with ALG experts including ALG President Rick Manning.

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Senate GOP to vote in favor of giving away Internet governance

Feb. 5, 2015, Fairfax, Va.—Americans for Limited Government President Rick Manning today issued the following statement urging Senate members to reject a resolution offered by Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) and Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), that supports the Commerce Department relinquishing control over Internet governance to the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) later this year:

“The Senate should reject any resolution that accepts the premise that the Internet should be given away to ICANN and global multistakeholders. Congress just voted for, and the President signed into law, a provision that prohibits the Commerce Department from relinquishing oversight of Internet governance this fiscal year. The Washington Post in a January 4 editorial agrees with our position that the U.S. government should keep control in order to protect Internet freedom.

“Yet, Hatch and Blunt, who voted in favor of the prohibition, now see fit to offer a resolution that supports the giveaway to foreign interests — sacrificing the First Amendment protections that U.S. government oversight affords for the free and open Internet. Hatch and Blunt would not even acknowledge the clear Congressional prohibition against the giveaway, and in doing so, are actively undermining the constitutional separation of powers, in supporting the transfer of government property without any clear Congressional authority to do so.

“The Hatch-Blunt resolution intends to raise public awareness of the Internet giveaway, and yet ignores the key controversy surrounding it, which is that the administration cannot perform the transfer without clear Congressional authority. The free and open Internet is too important to hand off to an unaccountable private foundation just to create a global monopoly on the domain name system and the assignment of IP addresses. We oppose this resolution in the strongest possible terms.”

Attachments:

“Protect the Internet: Keep the contract with ICANN,” Washington Post editorial, Jan. 4, 2015 at http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/protect-the-internet-keep-the-contract-with-icann/2015/01/04/b1ff61c2-7bff-11e4-9a27-6fdbc612bff8_story.html

“Congress Will Oversight ICANN: And You Can Take That to the Bank,” By Sophia Bekele, CircleID, Jan. 5, 2015 at http://www.circleid.com/posts/20150105_congress_will_oversight_icann_and_you_can_take_that_to_the_bank/

“AmericanExceptionalism.com,” By L. Gordon Crovitz, Wall Street Journal, Feb. 1, 2015, at http://www.wsj.com/articles/l-gordon-crovitz-americanexceptionalism-com-1422832103

Interview Availability: Please contact Americans for Limited Government at (703) 383-0880 ext. 106 or at media@limitgov.org to arrange an interview with ALG experts including ALG President Rick Manning.

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Trans-Pacific Partnership not free trade, but managed trade

Feb. 4, 2015, Fairfax, Va.—Americans for Limited Government President Rick Manning today issued the following statement urging Congress to reject President Barack Obama’s request for fast track trade authority on the Trans-Pacific Partnership:

“The allure of the concept of free trade is like a siren song for many on the right. But the Trans-Pacific Partnership is not a free trade agreement, it is a managed trade agreement negotiated in secret by governments and special interests seeking to maximize their individual economic interests. The only protector of the American people’s interests is a Congress that is fully engaged in the treaty ratification process. To give away the power to filibuster, amend, or delay consideration of a treaty negotiated by President Obama is a slap in the face of those Americans who voted to rein in this administration. We urge Congress not to grant Obama fast track trade authority.”

Interview Availability: Please contact Americans for Limited Government at (703) 383-0880 ext. 106 or at media@limitgov.org to arrange an interview with ALG experts including ALG President Rick Manning.

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