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Congress

House Passes Amendment To Block Funds For Net Neutrality Order

February 17, 2011

Updated 9:00 p.m.

The House passed an amendment Thursday that would bar the Federal Communications Commission from using any funding to implement the net neutrality order it approved in December.

The amendment, approved on a 244-181 vote, was offered by Energy and Commerce Communications and Technology Subcommittee Chairman Greg Walden, R-Ore., and Rep. Cliff Stearns, R-Fla., to legislation that would fund government agencies for the rest of fiscal year 2011.

Walden and other critics of the FCC's net neutrality order argue it will stifle innovation and investment in broadband. The order aims to bar broadband providers from discriminating against Internet content, services or applications.

"We are grateful to the Appropriations Committee for helping us push the pause button on these harmful rules so that we can advance permanent protections for innovators and consumers," Walden and Energy and Commerce Chairman Fred Upton, R-Mich., said in a statement following the vote. "Together we and our colleagues send a strong message to the FCC that they have overstepped their authorities."

If the defunding effort fails, Republicans are pursuing a second route to try to block the FCC's open Internet order. 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.

Rep. Ed Markey, D-Mass., a senior Energy and Commerce member who supports the FCC's net neutrality order, argued that by voting for the amendment, "you give control to the Broadband Barons ... and then you will see an inevitable decline in innovation, in investment, in the private sector, in the new products, the new technology, the new applications, these new devices which are basically invented by hundreds and thousands of smaller companies in our country."

President Obama, who also has come out in support of the FCC's net neutrality order, has threatened to veto the spending measure if it cuts government programs too deeply.

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