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Technology / TECHNOLOGY

Vote May Come Thursday on Internet Fairness Bill

FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski, center, meets with fellow members Robert McDowell and Meredith Attwell Baker after net neutrality rules were approved in December. Republican House members are seeking to repeal them(Chet Susslin)

photo of Josh Smith
April 5, 2011

After hours of testy back and forth and a veto threat from the White House, the full House has taken up a resolution to overturn network-neutrality regulations. A vote on the measure is expected Thursday.

At issue are Federal Communications Commission rules that prohibit Internet providers from blocking websites that use a lot of bandwidth, such as video-streaming sites like Netflix. Republicans accuse the agency of overstepping its authority and maintain that the rules are not needed.

Tuesday’s floor debate may be the last hurrah for the GOP-backed resolution. An identical measure has been introduced in the Senate, but it is not expected to gain traction there.

 

Rep. Greg Walden, R-Ore., introduced the resolution of disapproval, which would repeal the regulations. In enacting the rules, the FCC made a "naked grab for power it does not have," he said.

Other Republicans also took to the floor on Tuesday to portray the rules as government overreach. “This FCC regulation is a solution to a problem that doesn’t exist … using authority that the FCC does not have,” said Rep. Rob Woodall, R-Ga.

Proponents of the FCC's regulations argue that they are necessary to maintain free access to the Internet. Some House Democrats circulated a "Dear Colleague" letter on Tuesday, urging members to oppose the resolution.

"Our economy, jobs, growth, and productivity depend in large part on the Internet’s vibrancy and freedom," the letter states. "Too much is at stake for a blunt up-or-down vote that affects the future of this critical technological asset."

On Monday evening, the White House said that President Obama's advisers would recommend that he veto the resolution if Congress passes it.

“Disapproval of the [net-neutrality] rule would threaten those values and raise questions as to whether innovation on the Internet will be allowed to flourish, consumers will be protected from abuses, and the democratic spirit of the Internet will remain intact,” the White House statement read.  

Net neutrality as an issue, however, isn’t going away. The House has pressed to defund the FCC's implementation of the rules, and legal challenges are expected to continue.

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