While the House vote to bar the Federal Communications Commission from using any funding to implement net neutrality rules sent vibrations around the Washington telecom scene, analysts say the road ahead for Internet providers remains largely unchanged.
Republican critics of the regulations, enacted in December, had long threatened to target FCC funding and the amendment to the federal spending bill was approved Thursday night.
In the long run, the cut potentially "has a shot" of actually making it past the Senate and President Obama's pen, but final passage is not likely, said Paul Glenchur, a senior telecommunications analyst for Potomac Research Group.
"Its passage in the House really wasn't a surprise, but the odds aren't great that it will make it," he said. Democrats, who control the Senate, have largely supported the FCC rules, and Obama has also voiced public support for the regulations.
The same goes for resolutions of disapproval that have been introduced in both the House and the Senate, Glenchur said. These legislative actions target the rules themselves, not simply the funding.
And for now, companies must still act according to the still somewhat undefined regulations, all the while keeping an eye on the legislative battle and undecided court challenges.
Meanwhile, the rhetoric continues to fly. Conservative commentators called the vote a "stern congressional rebuke" aimed at keeping the FCC in its place.
"There has been a bipartisan consensus in Congress for years to stop the FCC from micromanaging the Internet via a strict net neutrality regime, so it's good to see our elected representatives finally take a stand," said the Heartland Institute's Jim Lakely.
The amendment passed along a largely party-line vote, with four Republicans voting no (including Rep. Jerry Lewis, R-Calif., who said he didn't mean to). The defunding effort gained the backing of 10 Democrats, including some who signed a letter last year calling on the FCC to drop its net neutrality plans.
FCC officials have not issued a comment on the vote.
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