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House passes block to FCC net neutrality funds

Fri, 02/18/2011 - 7:00am
Maisie Ramsay, Wireless Week

Congress has passed an amendment that would block funding for the FCC's net neutrality regulations.

The amendment to the House appropriations bill passed yesterday with 234 Republicans and 10 Democrats voting in favor of the measure. Four Republicans and 177 Democrats voted against it, and the amendment must pass a vote in the Democrat-controlled Senate before it goes into effect.

Rep. Greg Walden (R-Ore.) sponsored the amendment, which will "prohibit the use of funds used to implement the Report and Order of the Federal Communications Commission relating to the matter of preserving the open Internet and broadband industry practices."

Walden and other House Republicans have vowed to overturn the FCC's net neutrality rules. In addition to the amendment to block funding for the regulations, the GOP has also introduced a Resolution of Disapproval under the Congressional Review Act, which if passed would overturn the FCC's net neutrality regulations. The resolution has a simple majority in both chambers and is filibuster-proof if acted upon within a specific 60-day window.

"The amendment is simply a stop gap measure while we work toward passing a more permanent solution," Walden said of the measure to block funding for the FCC's net neutrality regulations. "I would encourage everybody who cares about keeping the government out of the business of running the Internet to co-sponsor the Resolution of Disapproval, H.J.Res. 37, which would nullify the rules themselves."

Earlier this week, the House Energy and Commerce Committee held a hearing with all five FCC commissioners about the potential economic impact of the regulations. Walden said the commissioner's testimony failed to provide "sufficient evidence of a crisis that warrants government intervention."

The FCC's net neutrality regulations, which passed by a divided vote in December, are also being contested in court in separate lawsuits filed by Verizon and MetroPCS. The companies argue the FCC overstepped its authority in issuing the regulations.

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