Cruz places hold on Internet transition bill

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) has placed a hold on legislation designed to increase congressional oversight of the transfer of the domain name system out of U.S. control.

His hold on the DOTCOM Act complicates a bipartisan effort in both Houses to oversee the Obama administration-backed transfer, and comes as Cruz mounts a bid for the Republican nomination for president.

{mosads}Under the bill, Congress would have 30 legislative days to review the plan to transfer control of the Internet domain system away from the Department of Commerce and to a group of international stakeholders. Cruz tried to amend the bill in committee to include a provision requiring Congress vote to approve the transition plan. His amendment failed.

“Sen. Cruz believes there are good provisions in the DOTCOM Act that will improve Internet governance,” said Cruz’s spokesman Phil Novack in a statement. “But Sen. Cruz also feels strongly that Congress should at least have a vote on whether to give away the Internet. The American people deserve to know where their elected officials stand on this vital question.”

Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.), Chairman of the Senate Commerce Committee, said he didn’t want to make any changes to the bill, which resoundingly passed in the House.

“I understand where he’s coming from, but I think it’s too hard to change it now. It would have to go back to the House, be up for consideration and a vote again,” Thune said. “It’s far enough along in the process now that I think we ought to move the bill in its current form.”

“We’ve been discussing it with his staff and I’ll be having conversations with him,” he also said. “And hopefully we’ll be able to get him to conclude that his is something that needs to be done  … [that] we want to move that bill and get it on the president’s desk.”

An initial transition plan is expected to be proposed this fall, but must go through more rounds of consideration before the transfer can move forward. Ultimately, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers will not longer be under contract with the Department of Commerce to manage the key domain name system.

For now, though, the legislation is stalled by Cruz’s hold. Proponents of the bill have decried Cruz’s move.

“Without congressional action, the Obama Administration is under no obligation to renew the existing U.S. contract with ICANN or to consult with Congress at all before relinquishing oversight of the DNS,” said Rep. John Shimkus (R-Ill.), a sponsor of the bill, in a statement.

“Once a congressional review period is required by law through the DOTCOM Act, additional legislation action can be taken based upon the details of ICANN’s proposal, NTIA’s certification, and the ongoing GAO investigation,” he said. “Holding up this broadly supported legislation now only undermines Congress’s role in the process.”

Tags John Thune Ted Cruz

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