(CNN) - The Obama administration is facing a fresh round of heat from Republicans Tuesday amid the passage of a Federal Communications Commission proposal that aims to impart new regulations on internet providers.
The so-called "net neutrality" rules, proposed by the Obama administration, is the federal government's most high-profile move yet in connection with a debate nearly as old as the modern-day Internet itself. The proposed rules would require high-speed providers to treat all types of Web content equally, instead of allowing providers to favor some types of websites or apps at the expense of others.
While some Democrats say the proposal doesn't go far enough in leveling the Internet playing field, Republican critics – including the two on the five-panel FCC commission - say it is the latest example of government overreach into a place it has no business to be.
"Analysts and broadband companies of all sizes have told the FCC that new rules are likely to have the perverse effect of inhibiting capital investment, deterring innovation, raising operating costs, and ultimately increasing consumer prices. Others maintain that the new rules will kill jobs," wrote Robert McDowell, a Republican member of the FCC, in a Wall Street Journal op-ed.
Meredith Atwell Baker, the second Republican member of the FCC, wrote in a Washington Post op-ed that the Democrat-dominated panel is "intervening to regulate the Internet because it wants to, not because it needs to."
"Preserving the openness and freedom of the Internet is non-negotiable; it is a bedrock principle shared by all in the Internet economy. No government action is necessary to preserve it," wrote Atwell Baker.
The same sentiment was echoed by Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell Tuesday:
"Today the Obama administration, which has already nationalized health care, the auto industry, insurance companies, banks and student loans, will move forward with what could be the first step in controlling how Americans use the internet by establishing federal regulations on its use," he said in a speech on the Senate Flor. "This would harm investment, stifle innovation and lead to job losses. That's why I along with several of my colleagues have urged the FCC chairman to abandon this flawed approach."
Meanwhile, Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchinson, the top Republican on the Senate Commerce Committee, filed an amendment last week in an effort to halt implementation of the new provisions. Twenty-nine Republican senators also wrote to FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski, a Democrat, last week to register their opposition to the proposal and urge him to abandon it.
But Some Republicans have gone even further in their criticisms, saying it constitutes an effort on behalf of the Obama administration to censor the Internet.
"Let's face it, what's the Obama administration doing? They're advocating net neutrality which is essentially censorship of the Internet," GOP Rep. Michele Bachmann said earlier this year. "This is the Obama administration advocating censorship of the Internet. Why? They want to silence the voices that are opposing them."
"This could be the very worst "Merry Christmas" present that you have ever received… Internet freedoms may VANISH!" wrote the United States Justice Foundation, a conservative group, in an e-mail to supporters.
"We've got to minimize the damage done by the FCC this month," added RedState.org blogger Neil Stevens earlier this month. "We need a light, light, light touch if we have to have regulation at all."
But in a clear illustration of just how divisive the issue has become, Democratic Sen. Al Franken is slamming the proposal as too lenient to broadband providers.
"Instead of proposing regulations that would truly protect net neutrality, reports indicate that Chairman [Julius] Genachowski has been calling the CEOs of major Internet corporations seeking their public endorsement of this draft proposal, which would destroy it," Franken wrote on The Huffington Post. "No chairman should be soliciting sign-off from the corporations that his agency is supposed to regulate."
Michael Copps, a Democrat member of the commission, said in a written statement that he won't block the plan after weeks of trying to make it tougher.
"The item we will vote on tomorrow is not the one I would have crafted," Copps said. "But I believe we have been able to make the current iteration better than what was originally circulated.
- CNN.com's Doug Gross contributed to this report