We’d be remiss if we didn’t give some mention to Rep. Mike Coffman’s letter the day before yesterday to Federal Communications Commission chairman Ajit Pai, requesting a delay in the commission’s vote on new rules that could lead to the end of “net neutrality”–the principle of internet communications that all traffic should be routed equally across the network:
After a chorus of Democratic and Independent lawmakers called for the FCC to delay its planned vote on a rollback of net neutrality protections, at least one Republican is now asking the agency to hit pause, as a few others express tempered skepticism of the proposal.
This week, Rep. Mike Coffman (R-CO) sent a letter to FCC chairman Ajit Pai calling for a delay to let Congress pass legislation on the issue. “The Internet has been and remains a transformative tool, and I am concerned that any action you may take to alter the rules under which it functions may well have significant unanticipated negative consequences,” Coffman writes. “Therefore, I urge you to delay your upcoming vote and provide and provide Congress with the opportunity to hold hearings on the net neutrality issue and to pass permanent open Internet legislation.”
In response Rep. Coffman is getting praise from activists on the issue as one of the only Republicans calling for a delay in the vote, which set for today. Sen. Cory Gardner has already put his weasel-worded stamp of approval on the proposal, and there is very little to suggest that Coffman’s belated call for a pause in the FCC’s long-anticipated rulemaking will have any impact.
It’s just the latest instance of Rep. Coffman, perennially considered one of the most vulnerable Republican incumbents in the entire nation, moving to inoculate himself personally against a bad story for Republicans nationally that he has no real power to affect the course of–especially not when he weighs in at the last possible moment as with his December 12 letter to the FCC. Much like Coffman’s high-publicity call for a discharge petition to force a vote on legislation to protect undocumented immigrants who came here as children, which he quietly abandoned a few days later, this is a great political opportunity to look good to left-leaning swing voters in his district.
As a practical matter, it’s meaningless. Coffman can’t stop or even slow down the destruction of net neutrality, and he remains a member of the party in power that is actually doing all these things he supposedly objects to.
At the end of the day, nothing else matters.