By David Shepardson
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell said on Tuesday a Democratic bid to restore the 2015 net neutrality rules is “dead on arrival in the Senate.”
The U.S. House of Representatives on Tuesday debated a Democratic plan to reinstate the Obama-era rules and overturn a December 2017 decision by the Federal Communications Commission to reverse the rules and hand sweeping authority to internet providers to recast how Americans access information.
Late Tuesday, the House opted to delay a vote on the measure and a series of amendments until Wednesday because of an unrelated issue over a separate budget measure.
The net neutrality bill mirrors an effort last year to reverse the FCC’s order, approved on a 3-2 vote, that repealed rules barring providers from blocking or slowing internet content or offering paid “fast lanes.”
The reversal of net neutrality rules was a win for internet providers such as Comcast Corp, AT&T Inc and Verizon Communications Inc, but was opposed by companies like Facebook Inc, Amazon.com Inc and Alphabet Inc.
On Monday, the White House told Congress that if the bill were approved, President Donald Trump’s advisers would recommend he veto it. The White House “strongly opposes” the measure that would “return to the heavy-handed regulatory approach of the previous administration,” it said in a statement.
The bill would repeal the order introduced by FCC Chairman Ajit Pai, bar the FCC from reinstating it or a substantially similar order and reinstate the 2015 net neutrality order. The House will also consider a series of amendments.
Representative Mike Doyle, a Democrat, said Tuesday the bill “puts a cop on the beat to make sure our internet service providers aren’t acting in an unjust, unreasonable or discriminatory way.”
Republicans called a bid to restore internet protections akin to a “government takeover of the internet” and said it would open the door to the FCC eventually setting internet rates or imposing new taxes on internet service similar to levies on cable or telephone service. Democrats say polls show Americans overwhelmingly back net neutrality and want protections that providers will not interfere with their internet access.
(Reporting by David Shepardson; Additional reporting by Amanda Becker; Editing by Dan Grebler and Lisa Shumaker)