House leader backing net neutrality legislation

House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthyKevin McCarthyWhite House debates vaccines for air travel McCarthy on Dems' spending bill: 'The amount of money we spent to win World War II' Democrats lean into vaccine mandates ahead of midterms MORE (R-Calif.) signaled Wednesday night that he will help move GOP legislation on net neutrality.

When asked if he would make it a priority to pass an open Internet bill and put the pressure on President Obama, McCarthy said, "Yeah, we just did that today with Keystone, too," before he pivoted to a longer discussion about the president's limited use of the veto during his two terms in office. 

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McCarthy said the legislative process is much more open than the regulatory process — a point made by other Republicans pushing for a legislative approach to net neutrality.   

"I think despite what you think of the legislative process, it is much more open, greater debate, and you get challenged on both sides. That is the way we deal with the issues," he said, adding that he feared the executive branch is asserting too much power. 

Republicans in the House and Senate Commerce committees have floated net neutrality legislation that would enact many of the principles advocates have supported, while also scaling back some authority at the Federal Communications Commission. 

The proposal has a long way to go. Republicans would need some Democratic support in the Senate. While a few have signaled a willingness to work on the bill, no Democrat has signed on. 

The GOP effort is aimed at thwarting the FCC's current rule-making process, which aims to reclassify broadband Internet similar to traditional telephones. The stronger authority, which the FCC will vote on later this month, is meant to enforce rules that would prevent Internet service providers from blocking or slowing Web traffic and would ban deals that provide fast lanes for websites willing to pay.  

The majority leader made his comments at the "rebooting Congress" conference sponsored by the conservative group Lincoln Labs. 

During his speech, McCarthy said technology, in general, could help cut down on duplication at federal agencies and help hold them accountable. 

He also scolded some parts of the federal government for being behind the times. He specifically called out the Senate for not using an electronic voting system.  

"Fifteen years into the 21st century, and we're still inside the Senate, the way to vote, it's on paper, the way you go through," he said. "That's not the way to respond to people."