Top GOP senator: Net neutrality budget riders unlikely

A net neutrality policy rider to limit the new regulations is unlikely to make it into a omnibus spending bill to fund the government, according to Senate Commerce Committee Chairman John Thune (R-S.D.). 

“I would think so, just because it would be so controversial,” Thune, a member of leadership, told reporters when asked if the likelihood was slim. 

{mosads}”We have a lot of our members that would love to do that. I would certainly number myself among those. But, you know, there will be I think in terms of the big bill, some policy riders.”

Thune’s comments come after Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) suggested a number of riders could make it into the funding bill that must pass by Dec. 11. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) also said policy riders will be included.  

“I can think of a handful of them that have a higher likelihood of actually emerging from and surviving the process that our members care deeply about as well that would be ahead of that,” Thune said of any net neutrality provisions. “But there is a lot of emotion, a lot of interest, a lot of intensity about that issue among our members.”

Democrats have previously warned against the inclusion of any net neutrality provisions. 

Republicans are almost universally against the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) new Internet regulations, which reclassify broadband service under a stricter authority that governs traditional telephones and voice service. The reclassification is meant to give the FCC more authority to ensure Internet service providers treat all Web traffic equally. 

Thune said his committee continues to look for a legislative solution. “In the long game, I think it is unlikely this gets addressed in the form of a policy rider on the appropriations bill,” he said.

“That doesn’t mean there won’t be other attempts to try and address this,” he added. “I wouldn’t rule it out, but I think it would be hard to [foresee] how you would get that past the president’s veto pen. So playing the long game, I’m not sure that is probably where that ends up getting [in].”

The omnibus bill will likely originate in the House. While Congress approved a budget framework last week, they still must pass the individual appropriations bills to fund the government before the December deadline. 

Previous proposed GOP appropriations bills contained a number of net neutrality provisions, but they never made it to the floor because of the broader budget battle. 

Tags budget appropriations John Thune Net neutrality

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