The House took up debate Thursday on an amendment that would block funding for the Federal Communications Commission to implement the net neutrality order it approved on a 3-2 party-line vote in December.
Lawmakers debated the amendment offered by Energy and Commerce Communications and Technology Subcommittee Chairman Greg Walden, R-Mich., to legislation providing funding for government agencies for the rest of fiscal year 2011. A vote on the amendment was postponed until late Thursday afternoon.
Walden and other critics of the FCC's net neutrality order say it would stifle innovation and investment in broadband. The order aims to bar broadband providers from discriminating against Internet content, services or applications.
In addition to trying to quash the order by blocking funding for the FCC to implement it, Walden and other Republicans in both the House and the Senate introduced on Wednesday a resolution of disapproval under the Congressional Review Act, which would give lawmakers a limited amount of time to try to block the FCC's net neutrality rules.
Walden described his defunding amendment as a "stop gap measure while we work toward passing a more permanent solution, our resolution of disapproval." He added that the FCC's order expands the agency's authority. "It's important to realize that the FCC's underlying theory of authority would allow the commission to regulate any interstate communication service on barely more than a whim and without any additional input from Congress," he said.
Rep. Anna G. Eshoo of California, the top Democrat on Walden's subcommittee, however, argued in a statement that "without clear 'rules of the road,' large corporations will be able to carve up the Internet into fast and slow lanes, charging a toll for content, and blocking innovators from entering the information superhighway."
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