Cruz wants Internet domain vote during highway debate

Cruz wants Internet domain vote during highway debate
© Greg Nash

Sen. Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzGoogle's most-searched politician of 2018 is Stacey Abrams Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg says he won't run for reelection as he preps for Iowa visit O’Rourke: Asking whether he is ready for White House is a ‘great question’ MORE (R-Texas) wants to use the highway spending bill to get a vote to strengthen an unrelated oversight bill on the Internet domain name transition. 

The presidential candidate on Thursday night filed an amendment to the highway bill that would require Congress to vote before the Commerce Department could give up its oversight role over the system that allows Internet users to easily find websites using an address. 

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“If it is a good idea consistent with U.S. national security interests to hand over and give away the Internet, then Congress should debate that and approve it,” Cruz said Thursday night, a nearly identical statement he made before the amendment was voted down in committee. 

Bipartisan House and Senate lawmakers came up with a compromise oversight bill that would give Congress 30 legislative days to review a final transition plan before the handoff to a group of international stakeholders took place, but the deal would go ahead if Congress did not act. 

Cruz wants to switch the presumption, meaning he wants the transition to be contingent on a congressional vote. 

“If my amendment is not adopted, here’s a look into what will happen: The report will be submitted to Congress. Thirty legislative days will pass. Congress will do nothing,” he said. 

Critics of the transition are worried that the handoff could lead to other state actors gaining influence over the Internet. The Commerce Department has said it would approve no plan that put an intergovernmental body in charge. 

The current form of the bill sailed through the full House and won an overwhelming majority in the Senate Commerce Committee. But Cruz has placed a hold on the bill, which would vastly extend the process if leaders brought it to the floor. 

GOP supporters of the current version say the bill was the product of compromise and struck a delicate balance with Democrats. Others say Cruz’s amendment would sink the deal, and Congress would end up with no oversight at all. 

“I understand there is urgency to pass legislation to provide oversight of the Internet,” Cruz said. “I also believe we should act affirmatively to protect Internet freedom and the amazing engine for economic growth and opportunity the Internet has become, and I urge my colleagues to support my amendment.”

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) is expected to limit amendments on the highway bill by filling the tree. The compressed schedule leaves little time for proposed amendments, like Cruz’s.