FCC delays Internet subsidy vote amid talk of deal

FCC delays Internet subsidy vote amid talk of deal

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) vote to offer Internet subsidies to low-income Americans was delayed by at least three hours on Thursday after Republicans said an emerging deal fell apart. 

Republicans accused FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler of pressuring one of his Democratic colleagues Thursday morning to go back on a deal with GOP commissioners after he was left out of the loop. 

A vote on the original proposal, which likely lacks GOP support, is now expected to go forward at 2 p.m. It can pass with the three Democratic votes alone. 

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The commission has been under intense pressure over the past few weeks from outside lobbyists and Republicans who have called for changes to that plan.

Democratic Commissioner Mignon Clyburn had come to an agreement with the two Republicans on the commission. But the office of Republican Commissioner Ajit Pai said Clyburn backed out after intense pressure from Wheeler Thursday morning ahead of the vote.

Matthew Berry, Pai's chief of staff, told reporters that staffers worked through the night to draft the deal.

"He has bullied Commissioner Clyburn into reneging on this deal," Berry said.

Clyburn said after reevaluating the deal with Republicans, she found it "could not fully achieve my vision."

"I applaud the deliberative process and want to thank Commissioners Pai and O’Rielly and their staff for engaging well into the night and morning," Clyburn said.

The morning was marked by a number of unexpected turns.

The vote was pushed back more than three hours amid talk of a deal. Later, former FCC Chairman Kevin Martin showed up to offer pizza to reporters waiting for the vote. 

The tenure of Martin, who now works for Facebook, was marked by a number of delayed meetings. 

"I support any chairman that delays meetings," he said. 

Updated at 1:47 p.m.