Democrats Fight Off GOP Attempts To Dilute Net Neutrality Bill

After a marathon nine-and-a-half-hour meeting of the House Energy and Commerce Committee on Wednesday, the Democrat-sponsored “Save the Internet Act” was voted through the committee without any of the attempted Republican amendments that would have watered down the net neutrality rules that the law is meant to reinstate, according to a report by The Hill.

The 2015 net neutrality rules, that prevented internet service providers from blocking or slowing data for certain sites while favoring others, were dumped last year by the Republican-controlled Federal Communications Commission, chaired by Donald Trump appointee Ajit Pai. 

The straightforward, three-page “Save the Internet Act” does not create a new set of net neutrality rules. Instead, the bill simply repeals the FCC’s repeal of the Obama-era rules, which puts those rules back in place exactly as they were before June 11 of last year, when Pai’s repeal took effect, as Ars Technica explained

But Pennsylvania Democrat Michale F. Doyle offered an amendment that was approved by the committee. Doyle’s amendment prevents the FCC from repealing the rules in the future, unless Congress passes a law to do so. The Doyle amendment was also meant to appease Republicans by insuring also that the FCC could not impose new, additional regulations under the umbrella of net neutrality, without congressional approval.

But Republican Greg Walden of Oregon slammed the Save the Internet Act as a “government takeover of the internet” and “more government socialism,” as Democrats on the committee spent much of the all-day “markup” session fighting off repeated GOP-backed amendments that would have significantly weakened net neutrality rules.

Those amendments, which were all defeated along largely party-line votes, would have stripped net neutrality protections from any 5G wireless service, or multi-gigabit broadband provider, according to Ars Technica. In addition, Republican amendments would have made sure net neutrality rules did not apply to ISPs that offered download speeds of less than 25 megabits per second, or upload speeds under three mbps.

The bill is now set for a full vote in the House next week, where it is likely to pass due to Democrats holding a majority there. But it faces much longer odds in the Republican controlled Senate—and with Trump, who could still veto the bill even if enough Senate Republicans joined on to pass net neutrality reinstatement there.

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