Last night on the floor of the House of Representatives, Democrats fought to preserve the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) framework which protects a free, open, and accessible Internet. Republicans called a vote on legislation which will unravel this framework by prohibiting funds from being used to implement the FCC's rules.
Rep. Henry Waxman, Ranking Member of the Committee on Energy and Commerce said: "Contrary to the hyperventilated rhetoric from the Republicans yesterday, the new FCC open Internet rules are, in fact, a bill of rights for Internet users. They do not "regulate the Internet,' they do not grant the government the power to "turn off the Internet,' and they do not determine what content is appropriate for users to access. Their goal is just the opposite: to prevent Internet gatekeepers from deciding what content their subscribers can access."
Rep. Anna G. Eshoo, the top Democrat on the Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Communications and Technology said: "The open Internet ecosystem has allowed innovative companies to generate tens of thousands of jobs and new competition. By one estimate, it has resulted in more than 3 million new U.S. jobs over the past 15 years. These rules spur competition, innovation, and job creation, and efforts to repeal them are a march to folly."
Rep. Edward J. Markey: "I am disappointed that the Republicans have passed this ill-conceived amendment and are using the Congressional Review Act to stop the Open Internet Rule. Americans rely on the freedom that the Internet provides. We need to ensure this freedom endures through sensible rules of the road. The Open Internet Rule is a commonsense, light-touch approach that will ensure the certainty to spur investment, create jobs, encourage innovation, benefit consumers and keep our country in a leadership position in the global marketplace."
Rep. Mike Doyle: "The rules make three simple promises. One, to consumers: that we can visit any website we want using any service we want on any device we want. Two, for innovators: that they can create tools without getting permission from the government or the company that the consumers use to get online. Three: that we put a cop on beat, to make sure that both sides are doing what they're supposed to and to be a neutral arbitrator. That's all they do."
The FCC received more than 100,000 comments from more than 2 million people during its rulemaking process--90 percent of whom were in favor of open Internet rules. Over a hundred public interest organizations, civil rights groups, religious groups, small businesses, unions, education advocates, and technology company associations expressed their support for preserving a free and open Internet, and opposing efforts to overturn the FCC rules. Copies of all the letters of support can be accessed here.
The amendment passed by a vote of 244-181.
This legislation will now be forwarded to the Senate for consideration. The Senate has the ability to delete this amendment or even replace the entire text of the House-passed bill, and both bodies of Congress must approve the identical bill before it can be sent to the President.
President Obama's approval is also necessary to enact this bill into law, and he has promised to veto the bill in its current form.