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Senators Seek Help in Fighting Latest House Net Neutrality Rule Roadblock

Language trying to block the FCC from implementing its network neutrality rules has surfaced again, now included in language in the House Appropriations Financial Services Subcommittee version of a 2012 funding bill that passed out of committee June 23. But Democratic senators are calling on their colleagues to block the effort.

House Republicans tried to attach a similar amendment to a temporary spending bill earlier in the year and succeeded in getting passage in the House but not the Democratically controlled Senate. Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-Tex.), ranking member on the Commerce Committee, had previously tried to attach a fund-blocking amendment to an omnibus appropriations bill last fall.

On June 23, the Financial Services subcommittee approved the following bill language:

"SEC. 621. None of the funds made available by this Act may be used to implement the Report and Order of the Federal Communications Commission relating to the matter of preserving the open Internet and broadband industry practices adopted by the Commission on December 21, 2010."

In a letter to the chair and ranking members of the Senate Appropriations Committee Wednesday, 10 senators including Commerce Committee Chairman Jay Rockefeller (D-W. Va.) and Communications Subcommittee Chairman John Kerry (D-Mass.) called on them to rebuff any similar effort in the Senate.

"Some members of Congress have decided that they know better what is good for the Internet than the people who use, fund, and work on it," they wrote, "we side with the agency of expertise and supporters of the rule and urge you to reject any proposals that will prevent the FCC from implementing or enforcing its net neutrality rules."

Free Press praised the senators. "This amendment is a poorly disguised play to hijack the budget process in order to prolong a political grudge against the FCC," said Free Press Political Action Fund Advisor Joel Kelsey. "We hope the Appropriations Committee heeds the advice of the senators on this letter and leaves this amendment where it belongs - on the cutting room floor."

The rules have not gone into effect yet, and won't until October at the earliest because they still must be vetted by the Office of Management and Budget (a 30-day comment period) for paperwork reduction issues, then don't go into effect for 60 days after they get OMB approval, per the FCC order.

Other Democratic Senators signing on to the letter included Al Franken (D-Minn., Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.), Tom Udall (D-N.M.), Mark Udall (D-Colo.), and Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.).