First House Republican Backs Effort To Restore Net Neutrality

from the steep-uphill-climb dept

While the best chance of reversing the FCC's attack on net neutrality still likely rests with the courts, an uphill effort to restore the FCC's 2015 rules via Congress appears to have taken a small step forward this week.

The Congressional Review Act lets Congress reverse a regulatory action with a simply majority vote in the Senate and the House (which is how the GOP successfully killed FCC consumer broadband privacy protections last year). And while the Senate voted 52 to 47 back in May to reverse the FCC's attack on net neutrality, companion efforts to set up a similar vote in the House have, as expected, had a hard time gaining traction thanks to ISP lobbying influence.

But things progressed slightly this week on the news that Representative Mike Coffman of Colorado agreed to be the first House Republican to sign off on the effort to restore the rules. But Coffman also introduced his own, new net neutrality legislation, and proclaims in a statement that he would be taking an "all of the above" approach to tackling the problem:

"The fight to keep the internet open belongs in Congress, not at the Federal Communications Commission,” said Representative Coffman. “The American people deserve to know that their elected officials, not unelected bureaucrats, are fighting for their interest. That fight begins with my bill, which will create an ‘internet constitution’ with the foundational elements of net neutrality."

“While my bill moves through the Congress, I am taking an ‘all of the above’ approach by simultaneously signing the discharge petition on the CRA, and introducing my bill” added Coffman.

A discharge petition needs 218 votes to even see floor time, and another 218 votes to pass the measure. So far however, the petition only currently has 172 likely votes -- 173 with Coffman's cooperation. It remains a steep uphill climb, and even if it passes it will need to avoid a veto by President Trump, who has yet to signal he has the faintest idea what the fight is even about.

As we've long noted, ISPs have spent the better part of fifteen years successfully (but idiotically) framing net neutrality as a partisan issue to sow debate and stall progress. Except the idea of keeping the internet a level playing field free from monopoly meddling has broad, bipartisan public support for what should be obvious reasons. The rules were a stop gap measure until somebody decided to actually do something about the lack of competition in the sector, something both parties have a long-standing habit of trying to ignore for fear of stifling AT&T, Verizon, and Comcast campaign contributions.

Coffman's bill (pdf), meanwhile, comes amidst efforts by ISPs to pass legislation they wrote in a bid to prevent tougher state or federal rules from being passed (or the 2015 FCC rules being restored in case of a court loss). Having read the bill it's weaker than the FCC's 2015 rules, carving out numerous loopholes for things like interconnection shenanigans, usage caps and zero rating, and "reasonable network management" (a term ISPs love to abuse). It also isn't likely to survive Marsha Blackburn's committee in the House, since she has her own even weaker, ISP-favored legislation she's been pushing.

It's Coffman's decision to join the CRA repeal that's more interesting, though that effort too has a long way to go before it sees any serious traction. Politicians facing re-election may want to join to avoid being vilified by activists ahead of the midterms, but most House Republicans likely deem net neutrality as too confusing and fringe of an issue for their opposition to really pose much of an existential threat.


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  • identicon
    Thad, 17 Jul 2018 @ 12:35pm

    My representative, Kyrsten Sinema, is one of the 17 Democrats who have not yet signed the discharge petition. Back in December when the net neutrality repeal passed, she tweeted, "Congress should take action to correct this bad decision. Consumers should get to keep access to the legal content they want at a fair market-based price without interference."

    I intend to call her office and (politely) ask her to take action to correct this bad decision, as she herself said Congress should do.

    I don't know if we've got anyone else from Arizona here, but I recommend other Arizonans do the same. Even if she's not your representative, keep in mind that she's running for Senate, so she's trying to get your vote.

    Also note that the Arizona primaries are on August 28, and to vote in them you must be registered by July 30. If Sinema does not sign the discharge petition and you are voting in the Democratic primary, consider voting for her opponent, Deedra Abboud.

    (Her likely opponent in the general, Martha McSally, is also currently a Representative, and has not signed the discharge petition either. And McSally's primary opponents are even worse; I cannot in good conscience recommend that anybody vote for Joe Arpaio or Kelli Ward.)

    If anyone else has a rep who hasn't signed the discharge petition, call, write a letter, even send a fax. They don't pay attention to e-mail, but if you actually put some effort into communicating with them, that will make a little more of an impact.

    Remind your reps that, while net neutrality may be a partisan issue in Washington, it isn't in America as a whole; 91% of Americans support it.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
      identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 17 Jul 2018 @ 2:53pm

      Re: Gosh, "91% of Americans support", and Congress won't act!

      You'd think a push poll by Mozilla would be accurate -- and it probably is among the shrinking number who use Firefox -- down to I think 'teens from over 50%.

      Also, those who believe Internet polls are highly likely to delude themselves that nearly everyone thinks as they do.

      Keep your hair on, "Thad": there's NO harm evident yet, and worse, it'll be tough to EVER prove.

      BTW: keep pushing your web-site because proves that you make your own propaganda bubble and only read what agree with.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 17 Jul 2018 @ 7:11pm

        Re: Re: Gosh, "91% of Americans support", and Congress won't act!

        there's NO harm evident yet, and worse, it'll be tough to EVER prove

        Like copyright infringement?

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        PaulT (profile), 18 Jul 2018 @ 1:36am

        Re: Re: Gosh, "91% of Americans support", and Congress won't act!

        "You'd think a push poll by Mozilla would be accurate -- and it probably is among the shrinking number who use Firefox -- down to I think 'teens from over 50%."

        The methodology is described quite clearly, and who conducted it (not Mozilla). Why do you think the choice of browser has anything to do with the results?

        "BTW: keep pushing your web-site because proves that you make your own propaganda bubble and only read what agree with"

        Whereas people who choose to remain completely anonymous and never link to their own opinions or allow their comment history to be tracked should be believed instead, because...?

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Wyrm (profile), 17 Jul 2018 @ 2:18pm

    (...) it will need to avoid a veto by President Trump, who has yet to signal he has the faintest idea what the fight is even about

    He has signaled that he has... less than a faintest idea about "the cyber" and his 10-year-old son who "is so good with computers".

    Reminder here.

    It might best if he's kept away from this debate. Or any debate at all.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Thad, 17 Jul 2018 @ 2:32pm

      Re:

      It might best if he's kept away from this debate. Or any debate at all.

      I would say what would be best would be for this resolution to pass.

      Which would, necessarily, mean involving the president in the debate.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
        identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 17 Jul 2018 @ 5:24pm

        Repost: Gosh, "91% of Americans support" and Congress won't act!

        You'd think a push poll by Mozilla would be accurate -- and it probably is among the shrinking number who use Firefox -- down to I think 'teens from over 50%.

        Also, those who believe Internet polls are highly likely to delude themselves that nearly everyone thinks as they do.

        Keep your hair on, "Thad": there's NO harm evident yet, and worse, it'll be tough to EVER prove.

        BTW: keep pushing your web-site because proves that you make your own propaganda bubble and only read what agree with.

        Repost for just a little bit of fun on this dull site so devoted to "free speech" that can't stand a little bit of text.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 17 Jul 2018 @ 5:34pm

          You’re still mad about that comment nine years ago.

          Streisand yourself again blue, I dare you.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • icon
          PaulT (profile), 18 Jul 2018 @ 1:43am

          Re: Repost: Gosh, "91% of Americans support" and Congress won't act!

          "Repost for just a little bit of fun on this dull site so devoted to "free speech" that can't stand a little bit of text."

          We support your right to free speech, which is why your dumb ass has never been blocked or banned, not any comment deleted.

          We also support our own freedom of speech to call you out on this and freedom of association to allow people to avoid the drunk asshole in the corner if they so choose. People are still free to engage such a fool if they so wish, however.

          Once again, if you're tired of being flagged as a troll, perhaps you should stop trolling? (And yes, saying things along the lines of "I'm deliberately repeating my comments to get a rise out of people" is you admitting to trolling.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

          • identicon
            Thad, 18 Jul 2018 @ 9:40am

            Re: tl;dr

            You know, I'd really just as soon you not quote trolls' replies to me. When you do that, you're helping them circumvent my block.

            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

          • icon
            That One Guy (profile), 18 Jul 2018 @ 10:49pm

            'I support your right to speak... just not on MY lawn.'

            We support your right to free speech, which is why your dumb ass has never been blocked or banned, not any comment deleted.

            Minor correction, one could block or ban someone from a privately owned platform and still support free speech in general, as despite the claims by a certain individual there is no free speech 'right' to use a privately owned platform. Flagging comments isn't a violation of anyone's 'free speech', but even a block or ban wouldn't be either so long as the platform in question wasn't government owned/public property, which TD is not.

            It's a difference of 'you're not allowed to speak' vs 'You're not allowed to use someone else's platform to speak/disrupt things for everyone else using that platform'.

            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
      identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 17 Jul 2018 @ 3:01pm

      Re: "less than a faintest idea" - Briefly state "net neutrality"

      in such a way that it obtains all the good points you allude to AND can't be gotten around by simple tricks -- as often mentioned here, by saying is necessary management.

      Well, you CAN'T. So may well be best that FCC dodged here.

      For extra bonus points, you can try stating the harm which is being done... Trick question, though: there's NONE evident, just predictive FUD.

      SO I bet this is going to burn out, as should, just another panic by netwits, especially Techdirt.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Lawrence D’Oliveiro, 17 Jul 2018 @ 4:51pm

    Lest We Forget ...

    ... here is a list that was circulated a while back about actual examples of net-un-neutrality happening in the US. Just for those with short memories. Or a weak grasp on reality that conflicts with their ideology.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 18 Jul 2018 @ 7:30am

    As long as both sides (Dem. & Rep.) get paid, forget doing what's right for the people.
    Both extremes are wrong in this argument. There should be s o m e federal regulation of how the net is run; but only s o m e.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Rekrul, 18 Jul 2018 @ 5:18pm

    It remains a steep uphill climb, and even if it passes it will need to avoid a veto by President Trump, who has yet to signal he has the faintest idea what the fight is even about.

    All you have to tell him is that Obama hated the idea of passing a net neutrality bill through Congress, and he won't be able to wait to sign it. Or maybe we can get Putin to tell him to do it. Hell, he'd pass an executive order if his master told him to.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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