House Democrats are set to revive a fight over the Obama-era net neutrality rules, putting them on a collision course with the White House and the GOP-controlled Senate.
House Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiGOP senator knocks Biden for 'spreading things that are untrue' in voting rights speech Sen. Ron Johnson: Straight from the horse's mouth Clyburn says he's worried about losing House, 'losing this democracy' MORE (D-Calif.) has set a vote for Tuesday on the Save the Internet Act, which would reinstate the Federal Communications Commission's (FCC) regulations requiring internet service providers to treat all web traffic equally.
The Obama-era rules prohibited internet service providers from blocking or throttling web content or from creating internet fast lanes.
Democrats argue the bill is a necessary step to ensure the internet remains accessible to all.
“This bill will reverse the administration's repeal of critical net neutrality protections which will empower the [Securities and Exchange Commission] to prohibit unjust, unreasonable and discriminatory practices and ensures consumers can make informed decisions when shopping for internet plans,” House Majority Leader Steny HoyerSteny Hamilton HoyerClyburn says he's worried about losing House, 'losing this democracy' GOP's McCarthy has little incentive to work with Jan. 6 panel Lobbying world MORE (D-Md.) said on the floor Thursday.
But critics argue the bill places bureaucrats in charge of the internet, which they feel could have strong negative implications.
"I look forward to a robust debate on the inaptly titled bill Save the Internet. I think a lot of people shiver at the thought of federal government saving us from the internet and the Title II regulation that would be imposed would allow the internet to be regulated like a utility,” House Minority Whip Steve ScaliseStephen (Steve) Joseph ScaliseSupreme Court handcuffs Biden on vaccinations House GOP campaign arm rakes in 0M in 2021 House Republicans call for oversight into Biden's 'failed' COVID-19 response MORE (R-La.) said in response to Hoyer’s remarks on the floor. “This is not the phone company of the 1970s, this is probably one of the greatest innovations that America has produced for the world, allowing us to be a world leader, a dominant leader in the growing technology field.”
Republicans tried, without success, to amend the Democrats' bill in committee, including undercutting the FCC's authority to enforce the rules. They also called for Democrats to come up with a compromise bill that would establish less oversight of the broadband industry.
A majority of the Senate voted last year to reinstate the Obama-era FCC’s net neutrality rules.
Democrats were able to force the 2018 vote under the Congressional Review Act, which allows Congress, with a majority vote in each chamber and the president's signature, to overturn recent agency moves.
Three Republicans — Sens. Susan Collins (Maine), Lisa Murkowski (Alaska) and John Kennedy (La.) — joined the then-49 Senate Democrats to pass the bill 52-47. But it died in the then GOP-controlled House last year.
"This is a second chance to right the Trump administration's wrong," Senate Minority Leader Charles SchumerChuck SchumerRomney: I never got a call from White House to discuss voting rights Kyrsten Sinema's courage, Washington hypocrisy and the politics of rage Joe Biden's disastrous 48 hours MORE (D-N.Y.) said at a press conference last month where Democrats introduced the new bill.
But Senate Democrats now only hold 47 seats in the chamber, after Republicans netted two additional seats during the 2018 midterm election. And the 60-day window for forcing a vote on the bill under the Congressional Review Act lapsed last year, giving the new legislation long odds in the GOP-controlled Senate.
White nationalism hearing
The House Judiciary Committee is scheduled to hold a hearing on hate crimes and the rise of white nationalism on Tuesday.
“This hearing will examine hate crimes, the impact white nationalist groups have on American communities and the spread of white identity ideology. The hearing will also foster ideas about what social media companies can do to stem white nationalist propaganda and hate speech online,” the committee said in a statement.
Candace Owens, Turning Point USA communications director and prominent African-American conservative activist, is slated to testify before the committee.
Eva Paterson of the Equal Justice Society, Neil Potts, who serves as the public policy director of Facebook and Eileen Hershenov of the Anti-Defamation League are also scheduled as witnesses.
The House could potentially take up legislation on the floor that would lift spending caps by $133 billion over the course of two years.
Under the legislation, the nondefense cap would increase to the $646 billion while the defense cap would climb to $680 billion in 2021. Congress has until the end of September to work out a deal on defense and nondefense spending caps and avoid sequestration kicking back in.
The bill advanced out of committee last week, with some progressives pushing back against the measure due to its hike in defense spending.
The GOP-controlled Senate Budget Committee passed its own spending plan late last month, though GOP leadership hasn’t indicated if it will be brought to the floor for a vote.
The Senate's budget sticks to the legal caps for defense — falling from $716 billion to $643 billion, including off-book funds — and nondefense, which would drop from $640 billion to $542 billion. The overall reductions would amount to $126 billion.
House Democrats are slated to hold their retreat — which was initially scheduled for February but was postponed to allow negotiators time to reach a deal on funding the government — in Leesburg, Va., from April 10-12.
The theme of the retreat is “100 Days In: Fighting For The People,” where members are slated to discuss their accomplishments since they took back the majority in the lower chamber and their priorities and agenda moving forward.
Speakers at the retreat, which is being led by Democratic Caucus Chairman Hakeem JeffriesHakeem Sekou JeffriesClyburn says he's worried about losing House, 'losing this democracy' Inflation offers steep hike for Biden House Democratic conference postponed due to COVID-19 MORE (D-N.Y.) , include Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell, singer John Legend and his wife, supermodel and best-selling author Chrissy Teigen.
Attorney General William BarrBill BarrThe enemy within: Now every day is Jan. 6 Dems worry they'll be boxed out without changes to filibuster, voting rules This week: Democrats face crunch time on voting rights MORE will appear before Congress in back-to-back hearings this week, marking his first public appearance on Capitol Hill since the end of special counsel Robert MuellerRobert (Bob) MuellerAn unquestioning press promotes Rep. Adam Schiff's book based on Russia fiction Senate Democrats urge Garland not to fight court order to release Trump obstruction memo Why a special counsel is guaranteed if Biden chooses Yates, Cuomo or Jones as AG MORE’s probe into the 2016 election.
Barr is scheduled to appear before a House Appropriations subcommittee on Tuesday before crossing the Capitol to appear before the Senate Appropriations Committee on Wednesday.
The hearings are for lawmakers to question Barr on the department’s fiscal 2020 budget request. But it will also mark the first time for lawmakers to be able to publicly question Barr about Mueller’s report, his four-page letter summarizing the toplines of the investigation and his plans for how much of the report will be made public.
Mueller handed over his report on the closely watched two-year investigation last month. Barr, in a letter to the House and Senate Judiciary Committee late last month, said he anticipated that he would be able to release the report by mid-April and that he would testify before the Judiciary committees in early May.
His appearance in two committee hearings this week comes after The New York Times reported that some members of Mueller's team believe the letter from Barr that summarized the principal conclusions didn't sufficiently portray their findings, which they suggested could be more damaging to President TrumpDonald TrumpWendy Sherman takes leading role as Biden's 'hard-nosed' Russia negotiator Senate needs to confirm Deborah Lipstadt as antisemitism envoy — Now Former acting Defense secretary under Trump met with Jan. 6 committee: report MORE than Barr conveyed.
Senate Republicans are set to rev up the nominations conveyer belt after using the “nuclear option” last week to cut down on the amount of time it takes to confirm most of Trump’s nominees.
Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellDemocrats make voting rights push ahead of Senate consideration Hogan won't say if he will file to run for Senate by Feb. 22 deadline Voting rights, Trump's Big Lie, and Republicans' problem with minorities MORE (R-Ky.) has teed up six nominations to get votes in the Senate. Under the old rules, senators would not have been able to finish up all of the nominees this week, with lawmakers expected to leave town for a two-week recess after Thursday.
Under the new rules, Republicans could squeeze in all six nominations by the end of Wednesday, and still tee up additional nominations for Thursday before they leave town.
McConnell has scheduled district court nominees Daniel Desmond Domenico, Patrick Wyrick, Holly Brady and David Steven Morales, as well as Cheryl Marie Stanton’s Labor Department nomination and John Abizaid's nomination to be the U.S. ambassador to Saudi Arabia.
Previously, nominations faced an additional 30 hours of debate even after they had defeated a filibuster proving they had the simple majority support needed to be confirmed. The rules change cut that from 30 hours to two hours for sub-Cabinet executive nominations and district court nominations.