House votes to reinstate Obama-era net neutrality rules

The House on Wednesday voted to reinstate Obama-era net neutrality rules prohibiting internet service providers from interfering with web traffic.

The bill passed by a 232-190 vote, mostly along party lines. Just one Republican, Rep. Bill PoseyWilliam (Bill) Joseph PoseyTrump takes track to open Daytona 500 Fed chief issues stark warning to Congress on deficits Scientists join Democrats in panning EPA's 'secret science' rule MORE (Fla.), voted for the bill.

House Democrats pushed their measure, dubbed the Save the Internet Act, through the chamber in the face of opposition from conservative groups and Republican lawmakers, but the legislation will likely hit a wall in the GOP-controlled Senate.

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Earlier this week the White House also came out in opposition with a threat to veto the bill if it makes it to President TrumpDonald John TrumpSenators demand more details from Trump on intel watchdog firing Overnight Health Care: Trump steps up attack on WHO | Fauci says deaths could be lower than first projected | House panel warns federal stockpile of medical supplies depleted | Mnuchin, Schumer in talks over relief deal Trump says he'll look into small business loan program restricting casinos MORE’s desk.

The bill would reverse the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) party-line vote in 2017 to repeal the rules prohibiting broadband companies from blocking, throttling or prioritizing certain websites.

“This is just common sense,” Rep. Frank Pallone Jr.Frank Joseph PalloneOvernight Health Care — Presented by That's Medicaid — Deal on surprise medical bills faces obstacles | House GOP unveils rival drug pricing measure ahead of Pelosi vote | Justices to hear case over billions in ObamaCare payments Obstacles remain for deal on surprise medical bills This week: House impeachment inquiry hits crucial stretch MORE (D-N.J.) said on the House floor during debate on Tuesday. “Each of us should be able to decide what videos we watch, which sites we read and which services we use. Nobody should be able to influence that choice — not the government and not the large companies that run the networks.”

Passing the bill was an important step for Democrats: The issue is an important one for consumer advocates and groups on the left. And the 2015 rules have been hugely popular, with polls registering support as high as 86 percent among voters of all political affiliations.

Democratic leaders including Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiTrip that led to acting Navy secretary's resignation cost 3K: reports Overnight Health Care: Trump steps up attack on WHO | Fauci says deaths could be lower than first projected | House panel warns federal stockpile of medical supplies depleted | Mnuchin, Schumer in talks over relief deal House Republicans, key administration officials push for additional funding for coronavirus small business loans MORE (Calif.) and Senate Minority Leader Charles SchumerCharles (Chuck) Ellis SchumerHouse Republicans, key administration officials push for additional funding for coronavirus small business loans Rep. Massie threatens to block next relief bill, calls for remote voting Democratic senators call for funding for local media in coronavirus stimulus MORE (N.Y.) rallied around the bill when it was introduced last month, painting the FCC’s repeal as a massive handout to powerful telecom companies.

“We didn't come to Washington, D.C., to represent companies — we came here to represent people,” Rep. Mike DoyleMichael (Mike) F. DoyleFCC rejects petition to probe broadcasts of Trump coronavirus briefings Bottom Line Hillicon Valley: Trump turns up heat on Apple over gunman's phone | Mnuchin says Huawei won't be 'chess piece' in trade talks | Dems seek briefing on Iranian cyber threats | Buttigieg loses cyber chief MORE (D-Pa.), who introduced the bill, said on the House floor.

Net neutrality supporters argue that without the rules and an agency like the FCC enforcing them, internet providers will have the ability to reshape the internet by favoring content from partners and businesses that pay them.

Democratic state attorneys general and consumer groups are also fighting the FCC's repeal in court. A panel of federal appeals judges is expected to decide on their lawsuit as early as this summer.

Republicans have resisted Democrats’ efforts to reinstate the rules over opposition to broadening the FCC’s oversight.

Republican lawmakers painted the Democrats’ effort as part of a “socialist agenda” with ominous warnings that setting rules for broadband providers would amount to burdensome government interference with the internet.

The GOP has introduced their own net neutrality bills that would implement prohibitions against blocking, throttling and paid prioritization. But the proposals have been nonstarters with Democrats and net neutrality advocates because they lack the enforcement mechanisms of the 2015 order, which designated broadband companies as common carriers and gave the FCC broad oversight powers.

“This legislation is a big-government solution in search of a problem,” FCC Chairman Ajit Pai, who pushed the repeal through in 2017, said in a statement. “The Internet is free and open, while faster broadband is being deployed across America. This bill should not and will not become law.”

Rep. Greg WaldenGregory (Greg) Paul WaldenOvernight Energy: Trump rolls back Obama-era fuel efficiency standards | Controversial Keystone XL construction to proceed | Pressure mounts to close national parks amid pandemic Infrastructure bill gains new steam as coronavirus worsens Critics blast Trump mileage rollback, citing environment and health concerns MORE (R-Ore.), the ranking member on the House Energy and Commerce Committee, called on Democrats to take up his party’s proposals to codify net neutrality rules without restoring FCC oversight.

“Their solution is not real net neutrality,” Walden said in a statement. “Net neutrality does not require a government takeover of the internet. And everyone knows their bill will never become law.”

But Democrats are largely unconvinced by the GOP’s appeals.

"For the Republicans to stand here and say that they care about net neutrality rules, when they had two years when they controlled the House and the Senate and the White House," Doyle said on Tuesday. "What did they do? They did nothing."

A similar bill that would have reversed the FCC’s repeal passed the Senate last year with the help of three Republicans crossing the aisle and a procedural rule that allowed them to force a vote. The bill later stalled in the then-Republican-controlled House.

Some Senate Democrats immediately began calling for the upper chamber to take up the bill on Wednesday.

“Americans of all political stripes support putting net neutrality rules back on the books, because when you pay your monthly broadband bill, you should be able to access all the content on the internet at the same speed without interference or throttling by your broadband provider,” Sen. Ed MarkeyEdward (Ed) John MarkeyFive things to watch as Wuhan emerges from coronavirus lockdown Hillicon Valley: Google bans Zoom from its work computers | Dem cautions White House against using surveillance to fight virus | Lawmakers push House leaders on remote voting Senate Democrat presses White House on reported coronavirus surveillance system efforts MORE (D-Mass.) said in a statement. “The Senate now has a real opportunity pass the Save the Internet Act and overturn the FCC’s wrongheaded decision on net neutrality.”

But this time around, Senate Republicans have procedural power on their side, and they have made it clear that they do not intend to bring the bill up for consideration. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellMcConnell to try to pass small business funds Thursday, warns against holding it 'hostage' Overnight Health Care: Trump steps up attack on WHO | Fauci says deaths could be lower than first projected | House panel warns federal stockpile of medical supplies depleted | Mnuchin, Schumer in talks over relief deal House Republicans, key administration officials push for additional funding for coronavirus small business loans MORE (R-Ky.) said Tuesday the bill is “dead on arrival” in the upper chamber.

Democrats, though, have made it clear they will continue to push the issue.

“The House’s vote to reinstate net neutrality reflects the will of millions of Americans who made their voices heard that they don’t want their costs of using the Internet to go up unfairly, they do not want their freedom to be constricted, and that if they should decide to start up a business, they deserve to be on an equal playing field with their larger competitors," Schumer said in a statement.

"As the American people experience the consequences of the FCC’s misguided net neutrality decision, they’ll know it’s because Senator McConnell and Senate Republicans refused to stand up to special interests and take action to stop it when they had the chance.”

Updated at 2:43 p.m.