Skip to main content

Net Neutrality Bill Progress Draws Cheers, Jeers

Reaction was swift to the House Energy & Commerce Committee's vote to send the Save the Internet Act to the full House for a vote next week, primarily from net neutrality groups buoyed by clearing another hurdle.

“The Energy and Commerce Committee has responded to the overwhelming public support for strong Net Neutrality protections," said Free Press's Sandra Fulton. "It’s now the full House’s turn to pass the Save the Internet Act and take the next step toward restoring the Net Neutrality protections the public demands."

The Democratic-controlled House is expected to pass the bill, the Republican-controlled Senate, not so much, though Free Press and other net neutrality groups are working to turn that tide.

"We thank the committee majority for rejecting any industry-friendly amendments that might have truly undermined this legislation, and we call on lawmakers to keep listening to their constituents and take this bill to the House floor for a vote as soon as possible," said Fulton.

All the Republican amendments offered at Wednesday's markup were rejected. Those Republicans called the act a heavy-handed government control of the internet.

Center-right limited government group American Action Network definitely agreed with Republicans that the bill was an overreach.

“The internet today is faster and easier to use than ever before," said AAN President Dan Conston. "For thirty years, the internet has flourished because Washington has left it alone. Americans support a fair and open internet, but they strongly reject overregulation by Congress.”

“Unfortunately, liberal activists in places like San Francisco and New York have redefined the concept of 'net neutrality' as a massive government takeover and overregulation of the internet in place of the truly free and open internet we know today.

“Instead of again rehashing the previous debate, Congress needs to look to the future and forge a new bipartisan solution, so the internet continues to drive economic growth and opportunity in today’s digital marketplace.”

"The best way to save the Internet is not the Save the Internet Act," said Internet Innovation Alliance co-chair Bruce Mehlman. "Insisting on utility-era Title II regulatory classification of broadband is both bad policy and a formula for Congressional inaction. By contrast, we see a real opportunity to advance a bipartisan legislative solution consistent with the net neutrality position Democrats held in 2010 and Republicans increasingly embrace today."

But there were plenty of encouraging words for the bill's progress.

“After nearly 15 years of FCC rulemaking, litigation, and talk of legislating, today’s vote by the House Energy and Commerce Committee is another significant step toward enshrining core net neutrality protections in statute," said Public Knowledge senior policy counsel Phillip Berenbroick. "This vote re-confirms the FCC’s responsibility to protect consumers and provide oversight of broadband providers."

"Today the Save the Internet Act (HR 1644) passed a crucial vote in the House Energy and Commerce Committee, despite a wave of disingenuous attempts by telecom funded lawmakers to derail the bill or gut its key protections with bad amendments," said Fight for the Future. "The bill was reported out of the committee largely unscathed, and will now head to the House floor as early as next week."

"We applaud the members of the House Energy & Commerce Committee who voted to advance the Save the Internet Act today," said Demand Progress communications director Mark Stanley."This bill is crucial to restoring the net neutrality protections gutted by Chairman Ajit Pai’s FCC in a giveaway to giant internet service providers."

“An open internet is crucial for small businesses and consumers, and we appreciate the House Energy & Commerce Committee for its swift action and for rejecting attempts to add distracting, extraneous amendments," said Computer & Communications Industry Association President Ed Black. "We look forward to the next step - before the full House - and Congress finally acting to restore strong, net neutrality rules.”

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.