House votes to unwind FCC network neutrality rules


Efforts to mount a court challenge to the network neutrality regulations put in place by a party line vote of the FCC late in 2010 were recently rejected as premature. But a challenge may be unnecessary if a Resolution of Disapproval of those same rules passed on another party line vote in the House makes it to the finish line. But the odds of that happening are not good.

The simple and brief measure was introduced by Communications Subcommittee Chair Greg Walden (R-OR). It was approved by the full House Friday by a 240-179 margin.

Energy and Commerce chair Fred Upton (R-MI) commented, “Today the House gave voice to the American people by voting to ensure the Internet remains open and free from unwarranted and unwelcome government regulation. The FCC’s rules threaten to chill the very investment and innovation we need to ensure the Internet keeps pace with the growing demands being placed on it. The House vote preserves the Internet and protects jobs and the economy by preventing an unelected and unaccountable bureaucracy from overstepping its authority. I strongly urge the Senate to follow the House’s action and end the marketplace uncertainty created by the FCC’s power-grab.”

The committee’s Ranking Member Henry Waxman (D-CA) didn’t see it that way. He commented, “This is a bad bill, made worse by a terrible process. If enacted, this bill would give big phone and cable companies control over what websites Americans can visit, what applications they can run, and what devices they can use. Consumer advocates, civil rights organizations, high-tech companies, religious groups, and labor unions all say H.J. Res. 37 should be rejected. The Committee heard from more than 150 stakeholders urging Congress to keep the Internet open and defeat this bill.”

The bill is not expected to go anywhere in the Senate. One of the first to have a crack at it will be Commerce Committee Chair Jay Rockefeller (D-WV), who quickly registered his disapproval of the disapproval measure. “Americans want the Internet to remain free and open and the FCC’s net neutrality rules provided just that.  I’m disappointed that House leadership wants to undo the integrity of the FCC’s process and unravel their good work,” he said.

Even if the bill does make it through the Senate, it faces a veto threat in the Oval Office.

Pictured: Greg Walden (R-OR)