FCC chief faces grilling over influence by Obama

Senate Commerce Committee Chairman John Thune said Wednesday the rules approved by the Federal Communications Commission on net neutrality are "wrongheaded" and "very dangerous."

The South Dakota Republican's committee is scheduled to hold an FCC oversight hearing on Wednesday afternoon to question Chairman Tom Wheeler and the other commissioners about their 3-2 vote last month along party lines to classify the Internet as a public utility.

"We want to get to the bottom of how they reached this decision," Thune said in an interview on CNBC's "Squawk Box" ahead of the hearing—referring to whether President Barack Obama forced Wheeler's hand.

"Clearly we think it's a ... wrong-headed approach," the senator added.

The Wheeler rules put Internet service in the same regulatory camp as the telephone, using Title II of the 1934 Communications Act.

The vote will force Internet service providers to treat all Internet traffic the same, barring them from charging higher rates for faster delivery. The commissioners promised not to regulate prices and to refrain from enforcing sections of the law that don't apply to broadband.

Net neutrality supporters feared that charging companies for access to so-called fast lanes would prevent young companies from competing with the likes of Netflix and Amazon.com.

Thune remains concerned. "The authorities ... granted the FCC under that statute are very far-reaching. Even though they're saying for the time being that they're going to forebear from using some of those authorities, we think in the future that could be very dangerous."

The FCC commissioners could change their minds, he warned. "The only way to really provide certainly is for Congress to set clear rules of the road."

"A number of us have been working on a more direct, limited authority for the FCC that is tailored to specifically to some of the things that would protect consumers but doesn't give this broad authority," Thune said.

On Tuesday, at a hearing before the House Oversight Committee, Wheeler pushed back against the notion that the White House called the shots on the new Internet rules.

"There were no secret instructions from the White House," Wheeler said at the hearing. "I did not, as CEO of an independent agency, feel obligated to follow the president's recommendation."

Read MoreWheeler: Obamadidn't influence net neutrality vote

DISCLOSURE: CNBC's owner, Comcast, was among the opponents of the new net neutrality rules.

Morning Squawk: CNBC's before the bell news roundup

Sign up to get Morning Squawk each weekday

Get this delivered to your inbox, and more info about about our products and service. Privacy Policy.
Please enter a valid email address

—Wire services contributed to this report.