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House Passes Democrats’ Net Neutrality Measure on Almost-Completely Partisan Lines

Andrew Feinberg



WASHINGTON, April 11, 2019 - The House of Representatives on Wednesday voted to approve legislation restoring network neutrality rules which had been rescinded by the Federal Communications Commission last year, marking both a victory for House Democrats as well as an end to the line for this latest attempt to revive the Obama-era regulations.

Passage of the Save the Internet Act, which the House approved by a margin of 232-190, represented the fulfillment of a campaign promise by a significant portion of the House Democratic Caucus. All Democrats either voted for the measure, or did not vote. Only one Republican, Rep. Bill Posey of Florida, voted for the measure. The rest opposed it or did not vote.

However, the bill's fate now lies in the hands of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., who has indicated that he will not bring it to the floor or a vote.

Last session of Congress, Senate Democrats managed to garner enough Republican votes last year to pass a so-called "Resolution of Disapproval" to invalidate the Federal Communications Commission’s repeal of the 2015 Open Internet regulations.

However, this year's House bill would require a 60-vote margin in the Senate, making it unlikely that it would pass, were McConnell to reverse his decision and allow the measure to come before a vote of the Senate.

Previous attempts at network neutrality legislation dealt substantively with the issues of banning internet service providers from blocking or throttling internet traffic. The Save the Internet Act takes a more procedural approach: It declare FCC Chairman Ajit Pai's repeal of Obama-era rules null and void.

That's why Berin Szoka, who runs the pro-free-market think tank Tech Freedom, called the bill "sham" legislation when it was introduced last month.

“Rarely, if ever, has such a short bill raised so many obvious legal problems,” Szóka said at the time.

Still, Public Knowledge Senior Counsel Phillip Berenbroick applauded the House's action in a statement yesterday.

“Today’s bipartisan vote by the House of Representatives to pass the Save the Internet Act reflects the overwhelming public consensus that strong net neutrality consumer protections are vital for the internet ecosystem and the digital economy," he said.

(Photo of Rep. Bill Posey by Malcolm Denemark.)



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