GOP senator offers his own net neutrality bill

GOP senator offers his own net neutrality bill
© Camille Fine

A Republican senator being courted by Democrats as a possible tie-breaking vote for a bill that would overturn the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) net neutrality repeal has offered his own legislation to replace the Obama-era rules on internet service providers.

Sen. John KennedyJohn Neely KennedyMORE (R-La.) introduced a bill on Wednesday that would prohibit companies like Comcast and Verizon from blocking or throttling web content.

But it’s unlikely to satisfy Democrats and net neutrality activists who also want the government to ban providers from creating internet fast lanes, which they say would upend the internet’s level playing field.

“Does this bill resolve every issue in the net neutrality debate?” Kennedy said in a statement. “No, it doesn’t. It's not a silver bullet. But it's a good start.”

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Kennedy called on Democrats to come to the table with him and Rep. Marsha BlackburnMarsha BlackburnSenate Dems build huge cash edge in battlegrounds Lawmakers split over how to expand rural broadband Sparks fly at hearing on anti-conservative bias in tech MORE (R-Tenn.), who introduced companion legislation in the House, to work out a compromise.

For their part, Democrats are pushing legislation that would use authority under the Congressional Review Act (CRA) to nullify the FCC’s repeal vote. Their CRA bill currently has 50 Senate backers, including GOP Sen. Susan CollinsSusan Margaret CollinsSenate weighs new Russia response amid Trump backlash This week: GOP mulls vote on ‘abolish ICE’ legislation Dem infighting erupts over Supreme Court pick MORE (Maine), meaning it needs just one more Republican supporter for it to pass the chamber.

Kennedy, who has said that he’s undecided about the CRA bill, has been a top candidate for that tie-breaking vote. A spokeswoman for Kennedy said he is still undecided about backing the CRA bill.

His bill would deliver on the telecommunication industry’s wish to have Congress settle the issue.

Net neutrality supporters are worried that if legislation like the Kennedy bill becomes law, net neutrality rules would be permanently replaced with weaker protections.