Net Neutrality Vote May Be Cast in House on Friday

By Ed Silverstein April 08, 2011

A much-anticipated vote that would repeal the FCC’s controversial new rule on net neutrality may be taken by the House of Representatives on Friday afternoon.

A vote, if one is taken, would likely be held after 12 p.m. EST, according to a blog post from The Washington Post.

The bill, sponsored by Rep. Greg Walden (R-Ore.) and backed by most Republican members of Congress, comes in response to the Federal Communications Commission narrowly approving a rule in December on regulating the Internet and broadband industry practices, according to a document from the House Republican leadership.

Earlier this week, the House approved procedures for voting on the resolution. In a vote that was cast largely on party lines, according to CNET, the House by 241 to 178 set up procedures that will lead to a bill that would say the FCC rule "shall have no force or effect."

"Congress did not authorize the FCC to regulate in this area," Rep. Rob Woodall (R-Ga.), said during a debate before the vote was taken, CNET reports. "We must reject any rules that it promulgates in this area... It is Congress' responsibility to delegate that authority."

Meanwhile, the White House says President Obama may likely veto a block of the net neutrality rule.

"If the president is presented with a Resolution of Disapproval that would not safeguard the free and open Internet, his senior advisers would recommend that he veto the Resolution," the White House statement said, according to CNET.

Broadcasting & Cable reports that the resolution, known as HJ Res 37, was approved by a committee after a partisan vote and predicts it will “be approved in the Republican-controlled House.”

“The president will likely veto it, but is unlikely to get the chance since it will almost certainly not be passed by the Democratically controlled Senate,” Broadcasting & Cable said.

Republicans oppose the FCC rule on several points. The Associated Press reports that Republicans argue that the FCC rule would “discourage phone and cable companies from investing in costly network upgrades by barring them from offering premium services over their lines or prioritizing traffic from business partners in order to earn a return on those investments. They also maintain that the FCC overstepped its legal authority in adopting the rules.”

In addition, House Republicans have put an amendment onto a spending bill that would prevent the FCC from using government money to implement the net neutrality rule, according to The AP.

Also, the FCC is expected to have a court battle over its net neutrality rule. A federal appeals court recently dismissed a legal challenge from Verizon Communications Inc. and MetroPCS Communications Inc. because it was too early to file. A notice first has to be published in the federal register. Verizon expects to refile its appeal.

In a related matter, Consumers Union urged Congress to reject a block of the FCC rule and said the Internet should be kept “open for consumers.”

"When consumers spend money on Internet service, they expect to be able to surf the web openly. Internet providers should not limit your choices to their preferred sites. That's why we need rules, like the FCC’s framework, to maintain an open Internet,” Parul P. Desai, policy counsel for Consumers Union, said in a statement. “Key stakeholders – from consumers, to small business, to civil rights groups and religious organizations – have overwhelmingly voiced support for Open Internet rules as well as the FCC’s authority to implement and enforce them. We urge House members to stand with consumers and vote no on HJ Res 37.”

Ed Silverstein is a TechZone360 contributor. To read more of his articles, please visit his columnist page.

Edited by Janice McDuffee

TechZone360 Contributor

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