Dems Dissed Over Bill ‘Neutrality’

A group trying to restore the former net neutrality rules is looking to raise money via attacks on what they see as recalcitrant Democrats who have remained neutral, so far, on the hot-button issue of bringing back internet regulation.



While a bill to restore the 2015 Open Internet Order’s Title II-based rules against blocking, throttling and paid prioritization (and anything else a majority of Federal Communications Commission members concludes threatens an open internet) likely has enough votes to pass the House this time around, it needs the votes of specific Dems to pass out of committee and get to the floor.

In a fund-raising email last week, Demand Progress bit some of the hands of the party that traditionally feeds it, saying: “We are SO CLOSE to passing the Save the Internet Act through its first big test in Congress, the House subcommittee in charge of net neutrality. But guess who’s standing in the way now: DEMOCRATS.”

Elsewhere, fellow net activist group Fight for the Future is also calling out committee Dems, including a fifth one who had suggested a willingness to compromise.

It’s not that the legislators at issue oppose the bill, just that they have not yet pledged their allegiance.

Demand Progress points out that none of the Republicans on the (House Energy & Commerce) committee are expected to support the bill, and that there are still four Democrats — they say bought by “Big Cable” — who are not yet on board.

In an apparent attempt to catch flies with vinegar, they call them out by name — Reps. G.K. Butterfield of North Carolina, Tom O’Halleran of Arizona, Tony Cárdenas of California and Kurt Schrader of Oregon — as potential bill-killers. Such is the tenor of the net neutrality debate, where passions run high and rhetoric runs higher. Demand Progress wants a sawbuck from fans to put public pressure on the four Dems and “demand” they vote yes on the Save the Internet Act.

The group is doing more than putting a hand out. It is also calling constituents in the legislator’s districts, then patching them through to their offices to help mount that public pressure.

If the bill does pass the House, Dems need some help in the Senate. A similar bill passed the Senate last year but died in the then-GOP-controlled House. Republicans also picked up Senate seats last November.

Even if the measure does pass the Senate, President Donald Trump could well exercise his second veto on it. He is on the record in support of net-neutrality rule deregulation, though gambling on consistency from the chief executive is not a retirement strategy.

John Eggerton

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.