Congress Heedless On Saving Net Neutrality

In General, News

Can net neutrality still be saved?

Another “Day of Action” is happening today (Nov. 29) involving net neutrality proponents. This is to remind the Congress that it is nearing its deadline to vote on the Congressional Review Act (CRA). It may still be early to tell but the House appears uninterested to restore the regulations forged during the Obama administration the Federal Communications Commission dismantled in December 2017.

The Senate passed the petition in May, however, it still needs the approval of the Congress before the CRA could reverse the decision of the FCC’s repeal of net neutrality and bring back the 2015 Open Internet Order.  It will overrule the current commission’s Restoring Internet Freedom Order that removed the consumers’ protection against ISPs unscrupulous business practices.

The caucus is coordinated with the collaboration between Fight for the Future and Demand Progress.

“Congress has until the end of this session to reverse [FCC Chairman] Ajit Pai’s net neutrality repeal— afterward, it gets way harder to restore protections against blocking, throttling, and new fees. So we’re bringing together tech companies, small businesses, and Internet users for an epic push on November 29th to pressure lawmakers into signing the Congressional Review Act resolution to restore net neutrality before it expires,” the group exclaimed.

They also sent a letter signed by Etsy, Tumblr, and others stating that if there are no net neutrality rules, dominant ISPs like AT&T,  Comcast, and Verizon will control subscriber’s experience. They will influence what users see, where they get their news, which business progress, and which ones will fail.

The House members can vote on invalidating the FCC’s rollback of net neutrality until its meeting ends on January 3, 2019. However, the House’s Republican governance almost surely will not deliver the procedure to a vote willingly.

According to a Motherboard analysis of  FEC filings, each representative received thousands of dollars as campaign donations from one or more principal telecom firms. These companies include none other than AT&T, Comcast, Verizon and the National Cable Television Association (NCTA).

Joseph Morelle (NY-25) won a special election filled a vacant position. He lately was sworn in and has plans to sign the petition. Mary Gay Scanlon (PA-7), another victor from the recent midterm election also received support from telecom firms. She has not disclosed any information whether she is going to sign the petition or not.

There are 218 House members (majority) and all need to sign the petition to push for a CRA vote. To date, there are already gathered 177 signatures (1 belongs to Republican with the rest from Democrats). The discharge petition should be filed by Dec. 10. There still are 18 Democrats who have not yet signed the petition. If Democrats were able to gather the total needed signatures, the House will have no choice but to vote on the resolution even without the committee’s endorsement.

Below is the list of Democrat representatives who have not yet signed the petition and the names of the telecom firms that supported their campaign.

  • Brendan Boyle (PA-13) = Comcast, Verizon, NCTA
  • Robert Brady (PA-1) = Comcast
  • G.K. Butterfield (NC-1) = AT&T and NCTA
  • Matt Cartwright (PA-17) = Comcast
  • Jim Costa (CA-16) = AT&T & Comcast
  • Henry Cuellar (TX-28) = Verizon
  • Dwight Evans (PA-2) = Comcast
  • Vicente Gonzalez (Tri-Caucus) = Charter
  • Josh Gottheimer (NJ-5) – NCTA= Charter
  • Gene Green (TX-29) = Verizon
  • Tom O’Halleran (AZ-1) = NCTA
  • Mary Gay Scanlon (PA-7) = Comcast
  • David Scott (GA-13) =  AT&T
  • Brad Schneider (IL-10) = Verizon
  • Kyrsten Sinema (AZ-9) = Comcast
  • Filemon Vela (TX-34) = Verizon, NCTA
  • Pete Visclosky (IN-1) = Verizon and NCTA
  • Frederica Wilson (FL-24) = Comcast

House Democrats claimed that they plan to continue protecting net neutrality when they have the majority next year. But the Republicans raised their Senate majority to 53-47 (was 51-49 before) in the recent poll. That would make it less possible that Democrats can get a rigid net neutrality bill across both chambers of Congress.

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