Republicans not giving up on net neutrality

Republicans not giving up on net neutrality
© Greg Nash

Congressional Republicans are continuing to push full steam ahead with plans to stop federal regulators’ “power grab of the Internet,” according to a top senator.

Sen. John ThuneJohn Randolph ThuneSenate nearing deal on defense bill after setback Congress's goal in December: Avoid shutdown and default No deal in sight as Congress nears debt limit deadline MORE (R-S.D.), the head of the Commerce Committee and the third-ranking Senate Republican, said he had no intention to give up the fight.


“One way or another, I am committed to moving a legislative solution, preferably bipartisan, to stop monopoly-era phone regulations that harm Internet consumers and innovation,” he said in a statement late Tuesday evening.

“Any claims that Republicans have conceded or surrendered to the Obama administration’s power grab of the Internet through FCC [Federal Communications Commission] action is a mischaracterization of our ongoing efforts.”

The comment came after the publication of a New York Times story claiming that Republicans had “conceded” the issue to the Obama administration.

The story quoted Thune saying that lawmakers are “not going to get a signed bill” without Democrats onboard, which does not seem likely as the FCC process is ongoing.

He has spent weeks working on legislation to enshrine some net neutrality principles in law — such as preventing Internet service providers from blocking, slowing or enacting “fast lanes” on the Internet — but that blunt the FCC’s power in other ways. Despite conversations with the top-ranking Democrat on the Commerce Committee, Sen. Bill Nelson (Fla.), Democrats have yet to endorse the bill.

Thune has previously said that that process might get easier after the FCC’s vote on Thursday to impose tough utility-style rules on access to the Web.

"I think right now, the critical thing is getting past the 26th, because right now everybody's kind of gone to their respective corners,” he told reporters on Capitol Hill earlier this month. “And then maybe we'll have a better atmosphere for working on a solution."