U.S. House approves net neutrality bill but faces long odds

Ruben Fields
April 11, 2019

The bill must also pass the Republican-controlled Senate and be approved by President Trump. "The Internet is free and open, while faster broadband is being deployed across America".

"This legislation is a big-government solution in search of a problem", Ajit Pai, the chairman of the FCC, said in a statement after the bill's passage Wednesday.

The Save the Internet Act, or HR 1644, would restore rules adopted by the Federal Communications Commission in 2015.

Even if proponents do manage to convince Senators to support it, the White House has threatened to veto the bill.

The FCC in 2015 in reclassifying internet service said it had significant oversight authority, including the ability to set rates for internet service, but said it was opting not to use it.

The latest legislative effort comes amid a legal showdown over the repeal.

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Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell told reporters on Tuesday that the net neutrality bill Democrats are pushing through the House will be "dead on arrival" in the Senate.

Representative Mike Doyle, a Democrat, noted polls suggest most Americans back net neutrality. Dozens of state attorneys general, tech companies including Mozilla and a host of consumer advocates sued the FCC a year ago, arguing the agency had acted improperly in rolling back the Obama-era rules.

In Congress, Republicans have introduced three other bills that net-neutrality advocates say are too weak because they don't give the FCC the power to go after potential bad behavior by ISPs aside from blocking, throttling and charging internet companies for zippier access to users. Some agreed not to enforce the laws pending the outcome of the Mozilla case.

"Last year, the FCC returned to the light-touch regulatory scheme that enabled the internet to develop and thrive for almost two decades by promoting the internet freedom and encouraging network investment", the White House's statement read. California also has a net-neutrality law which is on hold until the appeals court decision.

But Jonathan Spalter of US Telecom, which represents broadband firms like AT&T and Verizon, said the neutrality effort is a move in the wrong direction when online providers are trying to innovate.

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