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Senators Slam Net Neutrality Rule Blocking Maneuvers

A quartet of the Senate's strongest net neutrality rule supporters wrote a letter to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (Nev.) and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.) to register their strong objections to the House's vote to block funding of FCC implementation of the rules, saying they are trying to strip power from the FCC and "hand control of the Internet over to the owners of the wires that deliver information and services over them."

McConnel is on the record as being strongly opposed to the FCC's new regs, adopted Dec. 21, likening it to job-killing "nationalizing" of the Internet.

In addition to adding that amendment to the continuing resolution stopgap government funding bill that passed the House last week, Republicans are separately trying to invade the rules with a Resolution of Disapproval.

Democratic Senators John Kerry (Mass.), Al Franken (Minn.), Maria Cantwell (Wash.) and Ron Wyden (Ore.) asked the Senate leaders to object any similar effort on their side of the Capitol.

Republicans have argued that the FCC was, instead, stripping power reserved to the legislature, but the Democratic senators disagree.

"There are those who claim to oppose the order because Congress should write a new law to deal with broadband communications instead," they wrote. "We are willing and interested in working with our colleagues on modernization of the Communications Act. But that does not mean that the agency should stop doing its job under current law." An overhaul of the 1996 Telecom Act has been proposed on both sides of the aisle, but if past is prologue, that could take years.

Public Knowledge, which backs the FCC rules, said in a statement that it is "pleased the four spoke out in favor of a free and open Internet and look[s] forward to other senators voicing similar sentiments."

No matter what happens in Congress, the network neutrality rules won't go into effect until summer because they must firts be vetted by OMB per Congress' Paperwork Reduction Act. So, in a sense, Congress has already delayed implementation of the rules.