House votes to reinstate Obama-era net neutrality rules
The House on Wednesday voted to reinstate Obama-era net neutrality rules prohibiting internet service providers from interfering with web traffic.
The bill passed by a 232-190 vote, mostly along party lines. Just one Republican, Rep. Bill PoseyWilliam (Bill) Joseph PoseyThe Hill's Morning Report - Female candidates search for liftoff in 2020 presidential race Hillicon Valley: House votes to reinstate net neutrality rules | GOP lawmakers lay into Twitter, Facebook over censorship claims | Amazon workers push company on climate | Bill targets algorithmic bias | Yahoo to pay 7M in breach settlement House votes to reinstate Obama-era net neutrality rules MORE (Fla.), voted for the bill.
House Democrats pushed their measure, dubbed the Save the Internet Act, through the chamber in the face of opposition from conservative groups and Republican lawmakers, but the legislation will likely hit a wall in the GOP-controlled Senate.
Earlier this week the White House also came out in opposition with a threat to veto the bill if it makes it to President TrumpDonald John TrumpJulián Castro: Presidential candidates should be required to release tax returns Hillary Clinton says Assange must 'answer for what he has done' after arrest Herman Cain expected to withdraw from consideration for Fed: report MORE’s desk.
The bill would reverse the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) party-line vote in 2017 to repeal the rules prohibiting broadband companies from blocking, throttling or prioritizing certain websites.
“This is just common sense,” Rep. Frank Pallone Jr.Frank Joseph PalloneOvernight Energy: Bernhardt confirmed as Interior chief | Dems probing if EPA officials broke ethics rules | Senators offer bipartisan carbon capture bill O'Rourke defends 2015 vote to lift oil export ban Dems probing whether EPA officials violated ethics rules MORE (D-N.J.) said on the House floor during debate on Tuesday. “Each of us should be able to decide what videos we watch, which sites we read and which services we use. Nobody should be able to influence that choice — not the government and not the large companies that run the networks.”
Passing the bill was an important step for Democrats: The issue is an important one for consumer advocates and groups on the left. And the 2015 rules have been hugely popular, with polls registering support as high as 86 percent among voters of all political affiliations.
Democratic leaders including Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy Patricia D'Alesandro PelosiTrump officials proposed moving migrants to 'sanctuary cities' as retaliation: report McConnell: Pelosi dealing with her own liberal 'Freedom Caucus' Is messaging a massage or a partisan body slam? MORE (Calif.) and Senate Minority Leader Charles SchumerCharles (Chuck) Ellis SchumerOvernight Health Care — Presented by PCMA — Sanders welcomes fight with Trump over 'Medicare for all' | DOJ attorney in ObamaCare case leaving | NYC mayor defends vaccination mandate | Ohio gov signs 'heartbeat' abortion bill Dems see room for Abrams in crowded presidential field Border Dems introduce resolution condemning Trump's closure threats MORE (N.Y.) rallied around the bill when it was introduced last month, painting the FCC’s repeal as a massive handout to powerful telecom companies.
“We didn't come to Washington, D.C., to represent companies — we came here to represent people,” Rep. Mike DoyleMichael (Mike) F. DoyleHouse votes to reinstate Obama-era net neutrality rules House panel approves bill reinstating net neutrality rules House Dems plan April vote on net neutrality bill MORE (D-Pa.), who introduced the bill, said on the House floor.
Net neutrality supporters argue that without the rules and an agency like the FCC enforcing them, internet providers will have the ability to reshape the internet by favoring content from partners and businesses that pay them.
Democratic state attorneys general and consumer groups are also fighting the FCC's repeal in court. A panel of federal appeals judges is expected to decide on their lawsuit as early as this summer.
Republicans have resisted Democrats’ efforts to reinstate the rules over opposition to broadening the FCC’s oversight.
Republican lawmakers painted the Democrats’ effort as part of a “socialist agenda” with ominous warnings that setting rules for broadband providers would amount to burdensome government interference with the internet.
The GOP has introduced their own net neutrality bills that would implement prohibitions against blocking, throttling and paid prioritization. But the proposals have been nonstarters with Democrats and net neutrality advocates because they lack the enforcement mechanisms of the 2015 order, which designated broadband companies as common carriers and gave the FCC broad oversight powers.
“This legislation is a big-government solution in search of a problem,” FCC Chairman Ajit Pai, who pushed the repeal through in 2017, said in a statement. “The Internet is free and open, while faster broadband is being deployed across America. This bill should not and will not become law.”
Rep. Greg WaldenGregory (Greg) Paul WaldenOvernight Health Care — Presented by PCMA — Sanders unveils new Medicare for all bill with backing from other 2020 Dems | White House slams Sanders' rollout | Drugmakers, 'middlemen' point fingers on insulin pricing House votes to reinstate Obama-era net neutrality rules Hillicon Valley — Presented by CTIA and America's wireless industry — House panel approves bill restoring net neutrality | FTC asks for more help to police tech | Senate panel advances bill targeting illegal robocalls MORE (R-Ore.), the ranking member on the House Energy and Commerce Committee, called on Democrats to take up his party’s proposals to codify net neutrality rules without restoring FCC oversight.
“Their solution is not real net neutrality,” Walden said in a statement. “Net neutrality does not require a government takeover of the internet. And everyone knows their bill will never become law.”
But Democrats are largely unconvinced by the GOP’s appeals.
"For the Republicans to stand here and say that they care about net neutrality rules, when they had two years when they controlled the House and the Senate and the White House," Doyle said on Tuesday. "What did they do? They did nothing."
A similar bill that would have reversed the FCC’s repeal passed the Senate last year with the help of three Republicans crossing the aisle and a procedural rule that allowed them to force a vote. The bill later stalled in the then-Republican-controlled House.
Some Senate Democrats immediately began calling for the upper chamber to take up the bill on Wednesday.
“Americans of all political stripes support putting net neutrality rules back on the books, because when you pay your monthly broadband bill, you should be able to access all the content on the internet at the same speed without interference or throttling by your broadband provider,” Sen. Ed MarkeyEdward (Ed) John MarkeyHillicon Valley: Assange faces US charges after arrest | Trump says WikiLeaks 'not my thing' | Uber officially files to go public | Bezos challenges retail rivals on wages | Kremlin tightens its control over internet Markey pushes to mandate more plane safety features Lawmakers weigh challenges in fighting robocalls MORE (D-Mass.) said in a statement. “The Senate now has a real opportunity pass the Save the Internet Act and overturn the FCC’s wrongheaded decision on net neutrality.”
But this time around, Senate Republicans have procedural power on their side, and they have made it clear that they do not intend to bring the bill up for consideration. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellCongress punts on disaster aid amid standoff with Trump, Dems McConnell: Pelosi dealing with her own liberal 'Freedom Caucus' Is messaging a massage or a partisan body slam? MORE (R-Ky.) said Tuesday the bill is “dead on arrival” in the upper chamber.
Democrats, though, have made it clear they will continue to push the issue.
“The House’s vote to reinstate net neutrality reflects the will of millions of Americans who made their voices heard that they don’t want their costs of using the Internet to go up unfairly, they do not want their freedom to be constricted, and that if they should decide to start up a business, they deserve to be on an equal playing field with their larger competitors," Schumer said in a statement.
"As the American people experience the consequences of the FCC’s misguided net neutrality decision, they’ll know it’s because Senator McConnell and Senate Republicans refused to stand up to special interests and take action to stop it when they had the chance.”
Updated at 2:43 p.m.