Net neutrality opponents in the House face major roadblock


Most of the Republicans in the US House of Representatives and many Democrats have come out against FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski’s third way approach to enforcing internet network neutrality principles. But these opponents lack one critical legislative ingredient: majority leadership.

After 73 Democrats signed a letter to Genachowski on the topic, 171 Republicans followed suit. The total of 244 exceeds the 218 plurality point on the House floor by a comfortable margin.

But Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi is a firm supporter of net neutrality. According to an article in Salon, she said of the Democratic opponents in a conference call, “I don’t know how many options they have unless they choose to work with Republicans, but it’s not going to be a Democratic initiative.”

Describing overall broadband goals, Pelosi said, “Part of the innovation agenda I advocated for when I became Leader was universal broadband. We had hoped to get it done within five years. We just got the bill passed three years ago under President Bush, but we had no funding. Now we want to have the resources to take us to that place so we don’t have a disparity between urban and rural populations. Reclassification, net neutrality, universal access for every American, these are priorities for us. And we see it not in isolation but as part of a new prosperity, as a job creator, to make America healthier, smarter and an international leader.”

RBR-TVBR observation: Even if Republicans craft a bill they know will have the support of a large bloc of Democrats, they may have a lot of trouble getting the measure to the floor. Just ask Byron Dorgan (D-ND) and Trent Lott (ex-R-MS).

They passed their Resolution of Disapproval, repudiating Michael Powell’s attempt to relax media ownership rules, with bipartisan support in the Senate, and expected similar results in the House, only to have then-Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-IL) and then-majority leader Tom DeLay (R-TX) sit on it. Then the courts got involved, and it stayed off the floor until Kevin Martin made it a non-issue in late 2008 by scrapping almost all of the Powell proposal.