The U.S. House of Representatives on Wednesday passed a bill to restore Obama-era “net neutrality” rules, but the legislation faces slim odds of making it through the Republican-controlled Senate.
The Save the Internet Act passed the Democrat-controlled House 232-190 Wednesday, with only one Republican vote in favor. But top Senate Republican Mitch McConnell said Tuesday that net neutrality is “dead on arrival in the Senate.” The Trump administration also opposes the bill.
Republicans have said the bill would open the door to the FCC imposing rate regulations or adding taxes to internet service similar to levies on cable or phone bills. Democrats say the bill is essential to ensuring the government enforces rules that prohibit improper conduct by internet providers and guarantee Americans access to an open internet.
The 2015 net neutrality regulations barred internet service providers like Comcast, Verizon and AT&T from blocking or slowing online traffic or from charging companies for faster lanes for consumers.
They were upheld by a federal appeals court, but the Federal Communications Commission scrapped the rules after the Trump administration installed a Republican majority there. That meant there was nothing stopping ISPs from interfering with internet traffic so long as they disclosed it.
Tech companies and nearly two dozen U.S. states sued to undo the 2017 repeal and restore the 2015 measure. A decision by a federal appeals court on that is pending. California also has a net-neutrality law which is on hold until the appeals court decision.
In Congress, Republicans have introduced three other bills that net-neutrality advocates say are too weak because they don’t give the FCC the power to go after potential bad behavior by ISPs aside from blocking, throttling and charging internet companies for zippier access to users.
In a statement Wednesday, FCC chairman Ajit Pai called the House bill a “big-government solution in search of a problem.”