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FCC actions suggest compliance with GOP request to cease rule changes

FCC votes on rule changes are most likely on hold until the new administration is in office. Following requests from House and Senate Republicans, in the form of letters sent yesterday to Federal Communications Commission Chairman Tom Wheeler, all major agenda items for a rule-making FCC meeting Thursday have been deleted, reports Ars Technica.

The FCC’s apparent decision to take no action for the rest of the outgoing president’s term has precedent in Washington tradition. Eight years ago, after then President-elect Obama’s election, Democrat congressional leaders made the same request and the FCC halted rules changes and decisions until his inauguration.

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While Chairman Wheeler’s office has not formally announced it will comply with the GOP request, the agenda deletions indicate that is the case. According to the FCC, the items in question, from business data services to set-top box rules, could technically be voted on because they “remain on circulation.” According to Ars Technica, votes are unlikely.

The rules changes set for votes tomorrow included a major business data services wireline proposal for price cap decreases. Other items included funding to expand mobile broadband networks, expanded wireless roaming agreements, and required television programming audio descriptions for the blind and visually impaired. Set-top box rules that aimed at allowing consumers to avoid renting cable boxes, while not officially on the agenda, were subject to vote as well, but will now also most likely put on hold.

Not everyone is happy with the decision to delete the agenda. “While respecting the tradition that the FCC should generally wait for the new administration before acting on any new initiatives, these items were essentially completed and ready to move,” said Public Knowledge Senior VP Harold Feld. “More importantly, the agenda items address real and pressing problems in the broadband marketplace. These problems do not simply go away due to an administration change.”