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Senate Declines to Vote on Net Neutrality-Blocking Maneuver

The Democrat-controlled Senate Thursday voted 52-46 along party lines not to bring an FCC net neutrality rule-blocking resolution to a floor vote. The resolution would have nullified the FCC's December 2010 decision, also along party lines, to expand and codify its network neutrality rules, which actually don't go into effect until Nov. 20.

That means that, at least theoretically, Republican backers of the resolution could reintroduce it. A source close to one of those Republicans speaking on background said they would get together with resolution co-sponsor and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) on how to proceed, but would not rule out another attempt.

According to the Senate web site vote tally, it was straight party line with only two senators not voting, but both prominent names in past legislative efforts to impose network neautrality--John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Daniel Inouye (D-Hawaii).

In the five minutes of debate preceding the vote, Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-Tex.), who sponsored the resolution, said that the FCC has granted itself power over the Internet that Congress did not grant it. "The success of the Internet should not be tampered with," she said. No Democrats spoke in the two-and-a-half-minutes allotted to debate -- there had already been several hours of debate on Wednesday, where various Democrats registered their disapproval.

The ACLU was quick to praise the move. "By rejecting this unwise resolution to overturn net neutrality, the Senate has voted to protect the Internet and preserve its crucial role in advancing the artistic, intellectual, political and economic vitality of our nation," said Christopher Calabrese, ACLU legislative counsel, in a statement. "Without net neutrality, Americans' access to the Internet would hinge not on our right to free speech but on the whims of the corporations that would control it."