House Republican: Senate must pass Internet domain bill

Rep. John ShimkusJohn Mondy ShimkusRepublicans eye legislation to rival Democrats' sweeping climate plan Overnight Energy: House passes sweeping bill on 'forever chemicals' | Green groups question Pentagon about burning of toxic chemicals | Steyer plan would open US to climate refugees House passes sweeping bill to target spread of toxic 'forever chemicals' MORE (R-Ill.) on Wednesday said the Senate must pass his bill if Congress wants any oversight over the government's handoff of the Internet domain name system. 

Shimkus, who sponsors an oversight bill that already passed the House, said his bill should move easily through the Senate chamber before adding, "nothing moves easily through the Senate chamber."

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"But if you really want to have an extension of the contract, so that you can do at least oversight over the final product, you have to pass the Dotcom Act, the president has to sign it into law," he said during a brief speech at the American Enterprise Institute. 

Bipartisan lawmakers recently struck a compromise that would give Congress 30 legislative day to review a final transition plan before it moves forward. It would also require the non-profit group in charge of the transition to implement a number of accountability measures before the move. 

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) has placed a hold on the legislation in the upper chamber. He wants to add an amendment that would require a congressional vote before the transition moved forward. The current legislation would allow the transition if Congress does not act. 

But GOP supporters of the bill, like Shimkus, say that would upset the delicate compromise struck with Democrats. 

The Commerce Department’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration has had oversight of the Internet’s domain name system, which allows Internet users to easily find websites using an address. The government has historically contracted that role out to the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), a non-profit group. 

When the government decided to go ahead with a long-established plan to transition away from government oversight and to a multistakeholder model, it tasked ICANN with leading the move. ICANN officials have said a final plan could come later this year and a final transition could happen in 2016.

In the meantime, the government will have to extend its contract with ICANN. 

Many Republicans had previously feared the U.S. government's handoff could allow other nation's to gain more leverage over the Internet. Those concerns were largely relieved by the legislation. 

And Shimkus said Wednesday the handoff has to be successful. 

"I think this transition has to in the end occur, and that multistakeholder model has to in the end win out so you have users…free and unfettered," he said. "Because the default will be the balkanization — servers in different sectors and blockage, which is what we definitely don't want."