Democrats urge US House vote on net neutrality rules as end nears
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Senate Democrats made a last-ditch request for a House vote to reverse the Federal Communications Commission’s decision due to take effect on Monday repealing so-called net neutrality rules that sought to ensure equal internet access.
The 47 Senate Democrats and two independents wrote US House Speaker Paul Ryan urging him to schedule a vote to keep the Obama-era net neutrality rules. His office did not comment, referring questions to the Energy and Commerce Committee.
The FCC repealed the net neutrality rules in December, and they formally expire on Monday. New regulations give providers power to speed up or slow down internet traffic based on how much customers pay, and those are due to go into effect after a review of new transparency requirements by the White House.
On May 16, the US Senate voted 52 to 47 to overturn the FCC decision with three Republicans voting with 47 Democrats and two independents to reverse the Trump administration’s action.
But to retain the net neutrality rules, the US House must vote in line with the Senate, and President Donald Trump would also have to sign the measure.
A spokeswoman for the House committee Chairman Greg Walden, a Republican, said he had not dropped his opposition to the net neutrality rules.
Many Democrats say the issue will help motivate younger people to vote in the 2018 congressional elections, and polls show overwhelming public support for retaining the rules.
The FCC repealed the 2015 rules that barred internet service providers from blocking or slowing access to content or charging consumers more for certain content.
The December 2017 FCC rules require internet providers to tell consumers whether they will block or slow content or offer paid “fast lanes.”
The revised rules were a win for internet service providers, whose practices faced significant government oversight and FCC investigations under the 2015 order. But the new rules are opposed by internet firms like Facebook Inc and Alphabet Inc.
Comcast Corp, Verizon Communications Inc and AT&T Inc have pledged to not block or discriminate against legal content after the rules expire.
A group of 22 states have sued the FCC over the repeal. A federal appeals court in Washington has not set a date for oral arguments.
FCC Chairman Ajit Pai, who called the Senate vote disappointing last month, told reporters the revised rules “deliver better, faster, and cheaper Internet access and more broadband competition to the American people.”