What: All Issues : Government Checks on Corporate Power : Telecommunications Industry : (H.R. 1) On an amendment prohibiting the use of funds provided by a “continuing resolution” (which funded government agencies and programs for the remainder of the year) for the enforcement of “network neutrality” rules. (“Network Neutrality” refers to a regulation prohibiting Internet service companies from giving preferential treatment to online content providers that pay more for faster service.) This amendment was offered to a continuing resolution funding the federal government through September 2011, and cutting $61 billion in federal funding for many government programs.
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(H.R. 1) On an amendment prohibiting the use of funds provided by a “continuing resolution” (which funded government agencies and programs for the remainder of the year) for the enforcement of “network neutrality” rules. (“Network Neutrality” refers to a regulation prohibiting Internet service companies from giving preferential treatment to online content providers that pay more for faster service.) This amendment was offered to a continuing resolution funding the federal government through September 2011, and cutting $61 billion in federal funding for many government programs.
house Roll Call 83     Feb 17, 2011
Y = Conservative
N = Progressive
Winning Side:
Conservative

This was a vote on an amendment by Rep. Greg Walden (R-OR) prohibiting the use of funds provided by a “continuing resolution” (which funded government agencies and programs for the remainder of the year) for the enforcement of “network neutrality” rules. (“Network Neutrality” refers to a regulation prohibiting Internet service companies from giving preferential treatment to online content providers that pay more for faster service.) This amendment was offered to a continuing resolution funding the federal government through September 2011, and cutting $61 billion in federal funding for many government programs.)

Supporters of network neutrality argued that allowing major high-speed Internet companies such as Verizon and AT&T to charge Web site owners higher fees for faster service would lead to an essentially “two-tiered” system. In other words, content providers with more money would thrive as a result of being able to pay for faster service. Less affluent web site owners, meanwhile, could see their traffic slow to a crawl as a result of slower, cheaper service.

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC--which regulates interstate and international communication) had imposed network neutrality rules on Internet service providers in 2010. This amendment would have blocked funding for enforcing that regulation.

Walden urged support for his amendment, arguing that network neutrality would stifle innovation: “The Internet…did not become the explosive driver of communications and economic growth it is today until it was opened up to free enterprise to participate in. And the American entrepreneurs and innovators did what they did best: they grew jobs and they created new technology. As early as the 1970s, the FCC took a hands-off approach to data services. FCC Chairman William Kennard reaffirmed this approach during the Clinton administration. In rebuffing requests to regulate cable Internet access service, Chairman Kennard explained in a 1990 speech, and I quote, `The fertile fields of innovation across the communications sector and around the country are blooming because, from the get-go, we have taken a deregulatory competitive approach to our communications structure, especially the Internet.’”

Rep. Henry Waxman opposed the amendment: “ This amendment is bad policy. It would overturn a decision by the FCC enacted last December that would protect the Internet from those who might interfere with the ability of consumers to access whatever they want….    Contrary to the hyperventilated rhetoric from the [Republican] majority, the FCC rules do not regulate the Internet. They do not grant the government the power to turn off the Internet. They do not determine what content is appropriate for users to access. Their goal is just the opposite. They prevent Internet gatekeepers, like Verizon, from deciding what content their subscribers can access.”

The House agreed to this amendment by a vote of 244-181. Voting “yea” were 234 Republicans and 10 Democrats. 177 Democrats and 4 Republicans voted “nay.” As a result, the House agreed to an amendment prohibiting the use of funds provided by a continuing resolution for the enforcement of “network neutrality” rules.

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