House Passes Net Neutrality Bill, McConnell Promises It Won't Survive Senate

from the ill-communication dept

Yesterday the House voted 232-190 to approve the Save The Internet Act, three-page legislation that would fully restore not just the FCC's 2015 net neutrality rules, but its authority to police the telecom sector. As we've long noted, the Ajit Pai FCC's repeal involved effectively neutering the FCC at the telecom sector's behest, then shoveling any remaining oversight authority to the FTC, which lacks both the authority and attention span to effectively police telecom giants. The idea that telecom oversight would be lost in the cracks was, of course, the entire point of the telecom lobbying gambit.

The bill now heads to the Senate, where Mitch McConnell has already stated it will be "dead on arrival." The bill also needs to somehow avoid a Trump veto, which the White House all but guaranteed with a statement this week saying Trump would be advised to veto the measure. Why? The administration proclaimed it was because killing net neutrality had resulted in incredible benefits to American consumers:

"Since the new rule was adopted in 2018, consumers have benefited from a greater than 35 percent increase in average, fixed broadband download speeds, and the United States rose to sixth, from thirteenth, in the world for those speeds. In 2018, fiber was also made available to more new homes than in any previous year, and capital investment by the Nation’s top six Internet service providers increased by $2.3 billion."

As I noted over at The Verge some of those statistics are a bit shaky, and there's zero evidence any of them had anything to do with killing net neutrality. The 35% bump in broadband speeds, for example, is pretty well in line with past growth, and is courtesy of a lot of things, ranging from relatively inexpensive Cable DOCSIS 3.1 upgrades, to the rise of community broadband efforts (which the Trump FCC opposes). And the "record fiber" growth that the White House credits to "light touch regulatory" policies was courtesy of fiber build out merger conditions affixed on the AT&T DirecTV merger by the previous FCC.

There's some hope among activists that the bill passes the Senate, then avoids a Trump veto by appealing to his "populist" streak (whatever that means any more), given that the rules have overwhelming, bipartisan support. That's always seemed like a long shot given Trump's blind fealty to these companies so far. Still, even if the vote fails, the loss will provide a voter scorecard ahead of the 2020 elections, making it abundantly clear which politicians actively respect the will of the public and the need for level internet playing fields, and which prioritize the revenues of giant natural telecom monopolies.

The best chance to reverse the repeal has always been with the courts. Especially given the numerous, often utterly bizarre procedural missteps the FCC made during the repeal. If the lawsuit filed against the FCC by 23 state AGs, consumer groups, and a handful of smaller companies like Mozilla is victorious (a ruling could pop up within months), it could immediately restore the 2015 rules and the FCC's full authority over ISPs.

Filed Under: donald trump, fcc, house, mitch mcconnell, net neutrality, senate, veto


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  1. identicon
    Drunk Uncle Sam, 12 Apr 2019 @ 7:57am

    Re: Re:

    After all the coal miners have either died of black lung, starvation, or other such malady, who will be left to give the turtle a vote?


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