House votes to restore net neutrality as White House threatens Trump veto

Representative Anna Eshoo (D-Calif.) Speaks as she stands behind a podium and holds a paper copy of a net neutrality bill during a press conference, while the Speaker of the House of Representatives , Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) And other Democrats observe.
Enlarge / Representative Anna Eshoo (D-Calif.), Left, discusses a net neutrality bill while House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) Listens during a press conference in Washington, DC DC, on Wednesday, March 6, 2019.

Getty Images | Bloomberg

The US House of Representatives UU He voted today to restore the neutrality rules of the Obama era network, pbading a bill that would repeal the repeal of the Trump era FCC rules that previously prohibited lockout, regulation and paid prioritization. The vote was 232-190, with 231 Democrats and a Republican supporting the bill, and 190 Republicans voted against. Four Democrats and six Republicans did not vote.

However, it is likely that the bill will not become law, as it could be blocked by the Senate controlled by the Republicans or vetoed by President Trump. The staff of the White House on Monday recommended that Trump vetoes the bill, claiming that the derogation of net neutrality prompted the new deployment of broadband, even though the data from the Federal Communications Commission does not support that conclusion.

The Democrats' "Internet Salvation Act" does not even seem to reach Trump, as Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky) declared him "dead upon arrival."

The approval of the House of Representatives was expected, since the Democratic leaders pushed the bill and the Democrats have a majority of 235-197. The debate on the floor of the house began yesterday and concluded today.

"The Save the Internet Act ensures that consumers have control over their Internet experience, rather than Internet service providers. [controlling that experience]"Representative Frank Pallone (D-N.J.) Yesterday said." This is just common sense. Each one of us must be able to decide which videos we see, which sites we read and which services we use. No one should be able to influence that choice, neither the government nor the big companies that run the networks. "

Democrats also argue that net neutrality rules drive the economy by ensuring that small businesses can reach consumers through the Internet at the same speed as large companies that could pay for priority access.

The Republican Party criticizes the "socialist agenda"

The Republicans introduced their own, weaker, net neutrality bills, and tried to destroy the Democrats' proposal with amendments that would exempt many broadband providers and broadband services from the net neutrality rules. But Democrats remained adamant on a bill to fully restore the net neutrality rules that were applied from June 2015 through June 2018.

Rep. Greg Walden (R-Ore.) Argued that the Democrats' net neutrality bill is "another table in his socialist agenda that would regulate the Internet as if it were a monopoly utility" and a "takeover by part of the Internet government. "

Walden also said the bill could allow the government to take over and manage private broadband networks, dictate where and when new broadband networks should be implemented, impose taxes on the Internet, regulate speech on the Internet and limits the full potential of 5G. In fact, the Democrats bill would simply restore the net neutrality rules that were applied between 2015 and 2018, and none of those things happened during that time.

"What my friend refers to as an Internet takeover, we call consumer protection, and that's what we're asking the FCC to do," Rep. Mike Doyle said yesterday (D-Penn.)

Rep. Steve Scalise (R-La.) Also suggested that the net neutrality bill does more than it actually does, claiming that the net neutrality debate is "a battle of individual freedom versus control." government, in case you have the option to decide which provider you choose. " Do you want to get your internet service from? "Despite what Scalise said, there is nothing in the bill that prevents consumers from switching to ISP, if they have a choice, and many Americans do not.

Rep. Anna Eshoo (D-Calif.) Said that anyone who thinks network neutrality rules are not necessary should talk to Santa Clara County firefighters, whose "unlimited data" plan was controlled by Verizon while They were fighting a fire last year.

"If you think that Internet service providers have not misbehaved, talk to Santa Clara County firefighters," Eshoo said. "Talk to them, they were fighting the worst fire in California's history, they were being limited, they called Verizon and Verizon tried to sell them an improved plan while trying to save lives." (While net neutrality rules did not prohibit limitation of unlimited data plans when consumers reach monthly thresholds of "de-prioritization" imposed by operators, the rules allowed Internet users to complain to the FCC about unfair or unreasonable prices and practices).

While some Republicans said they support the net's neutrality and blamed the Democrats for not committing, Doyle said Republicans did not pbad a net neutrality bill, even when they controlled both houses of Congress and the White House in 2017 and 2018

Difficult road in the Senate

The Senate voted in favor of reversing the derogation of neutrality from the FCC network in May 2018, when three Republicans rejected the party's leadership to join the Democrats in a 52-47 vote. But Republicans had a slimmer majority in the Senate last year, and Democrats could only force a vote by pushing a resolution of the Congressional Review Act (CRA) instead of a regular bill.

The resolutions of the CRA, which revert the decisions of the federal agency, need only a simple majority to force a floor vote and ensure its approval. But the resolutions of the CRA can only be approved in the same session of the Congress in which the decision of the agency was made. Because a new session in Congress began in January, a resolution by the CRA that annuls the December 2017 revocation order of the FCC President Ajit Pai is no longer an option.

This time, the Senate bill to restore net neutrality rules must go through the normal committee process, which is controlled by Republicans. Just taking the bill to the floor of the Senate for a final vote will be much more difficult for Democrats than last year.

Last year's CRA resolution failed in the House of Representatives, as the Republicans still had a considerable majority at that time.

No blockages, strangulation or paid prioritization

Completely reshaping net neutrality rules with the Democrats bill would generally prohibit mobile and domestic Internet service providers from blocking or strangulating legal Internet traffic, and striking strike prioritization agreements. ISPs could still reduce the overall speed of consumers according to the data plans they buy, but would not allow ISPs to discriminate against particular websites or online services.

The Democrats bill would also restore other consumer protections that used to be applied by the FCC, such as the requirement that ISPs be more transparent with customers about hidden fees and the consequences of exceeding data limits.

However, there is good news for ISPs. The amended version of the bill sent to the House of Representatives by the Commerce Committee of the House of Representatives attempts to block the FCC's 2015 order, including the FCC's decisions not to apply other common Title II transportation rules. , such as the regulation of tariffs and the separation of the last mile. The Democrats bill could prevent current and future FCC majorities from repealing network neutrality rules Y to impose other rules that the FCC of the Obama era refused to impose.

The text of the bill says that this "would have the effect of permanently prohibiting the Commission from reversing any decision within the [FCC’s 2015] "Declaration and declaratory order to apply or not apply a provision of the Communications Act of 1934 or a regulation of the Commission."

In that net neutrality order of 2015, the FCC explicitly stated that its tolerance decision "does not include the unbundling of last-mile facilities, or rates, or tariff regulation, or cost accounting rules." The Democrats described their bill as an attempt to permanently block that decision in their place.

The bill "permanently prohibits the FCC from applying provisions on the setting of rates, the unbundling of ISP networks or the collection of taxes or additional fees on broadband access," said Doyle.

But while this bill would prevent the FCC from applying existing Rules based on Title II for broadband, it could still be possible so that future FCC majorities write completely new regulations for common broadband carriers by initiating a new independent regulatory procedure.

Since 2015, broadband industry lobbyists and Republicans in Congress have repeatedly said that they support net neutrality rules, but not the use of Title II authority by the FCC to enforce those rules. They have argued that the use of Title II could lead to the FCC imposing broadband price caps and other rules not specifically related to net neutrality.

At a minimum, the Democrats bill would make it difficult for future FCCs to impose fee regulation and unbundling. Despite this, the Republicans and ISPs continued to oppose the neutrality law of the Democrats' network.

The Democrats supported a Republican amendment that would require the FCC to list all the rules and regulations it banned in the net neutrality order of 2015. The FCC said in its net neutrality order that it declined to apply more than 700 regulations to broadband , but did not disclose a list of all of them.

Another amendment approved would require the FCC to report to Congress after one year to describe any investigation of net neutrality and compliance actions that the commission has initiated. Another approved amendment would require the FCC to evaluate and resolve problems in gathering data on broadband availability, since the FCC's broadband deployment data is inaccurate and often exaggerates availability.

The unwavering opposition of the Republicans.

Republicans argued that the Internet works well without net neutrality rules.

"I have not seen any nefarious Internet shortages or blockages in the past few days," said Rep. Rob Woodall (R-Ga.), Noting that the House of Representatives procedures were transmitted online despite the lack of rules of Net neutrality. "He's going through the pipes as he always has."

"It is unfortunate that so many people are afraid of Internet freedom," Woodall said, apparently referring to the freedom of network neutrality rules for ISPs.

Rep. Michael Burgess (R-Texas) said that 5G wireless services will eliminate the need for net neutrality rules "because the latency of all content will be almost zero." (Actually, Verizon just launched the 5G mobile in small parts of Chicago and Minneapolis and said the latency would be almost 30 milliseconds).

"The Internet has prospered for decades because it was not under the government's strong hand," Burgess said.

While Republicans in Congress are firmly against the net neutrality rules proposed by the Democrats, Republicans in general are not. After surveying about 1,000 registered voters last year, the Public Consultation Program at the University of Maryland reported that "eighty-six percent oppose the repeal of net neutrality, including 82 percent of the Republicans and 90 percent of the Democrats. "

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