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Nelson Signals Neutrality Bill Still Needed

There were happy sounds emanating from some high-profile Hill Democrats Thursday, including long-time Title II fan Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) and Rep. Anna Eshoo (D-Calif.), ranking member of the Communications Subcommittee.

But there was also a signal that legislation is still needed.

That came from Sen. Bill Nelson (D-Fla.), ranking member of the full House Energy & Commerce Committee.

“The rules are now poised to go into effect,” said Nelson, without characterizing that as good or bad. “While the court conducts its review, I remain committed to finding true bipartisan consensus to take the important protections the FCC put into place and provide the certainty that only legislation can provide. That legislation, though, must fully protect consumers, preserve the FCC’s role, and leave the agency with flexible, forward-looking authority.” 

Sen John Thune (R-S.D.) pledged to work with Nelson.

“This decision underscores the need for Congress to find a bipartisan legislative solution to protect, preserve, and promote the free and open Internet," he said. "I will continue my work with Ranking Member Nelson to achieve that goal. Edge companies, broadband providers, and Internet users alike all need clear rules of the digital road so they can continue to innovate, invest, and use the Internet with confidence.  Only Congress, on a bipartisan basis, can provide that legal certainty.”

Sen. Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii), ranking member of the Communications Subcommittee, also said he was open to finding a legislative backstop.

“The D.C. Circuit’s decision to allow the FCC’s net neutrality rules to fully go into effect is good news for consumers and competition on the Internet," Schatz said. "But this litigation is far from over.  As a result, I remain open to trying to reach common ground in Congress on a way to enshrine the critical net neutrality protections adopted by the FCC in statute.”

Eshoo and Markey were focused on celebrating the win, joined by Rep. Frank Pallone (D-N.J.), ranking member for Energy & Commerce.

“On June 12th millions of Americans will receive what they’ve long asked for: effective, enforceable net neutrality protections to keep the Internet free and open,” Eshoo said in a statement. “The Court’s decision today is a critical validation that the new rules to protect an open Internet are grounded in strong legal footing and can endure future challenges by broadband providers. Millions of consumers, entrepreneurs, innovators and others stand by this, and today the Court agreed with them.”

“The news today from the D.C. Circuit Court is clear: the Internet is open for business for everyone," said Markey. "I applaud the court for its decision to deny industry’s requested stay of the FCC’s Open Internet order. Consumers, innovators, activists and entrepreneurs – anyone who counts on the Internet to connect with the world around them – will fully benefit from these essential net neutrality protections.”

“I am pleased that the court has rejected attempts to delay the strong net neutrality rules put in place by the FCC," said Pallone. "The importance of these protections cannot be overstated, and I am glad that consumers across the country will benefit from them as soon as possible.”

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.