After Senate Vote on Net Neutrality, DC Responds

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After the Senate's vote to restore the Federal Communications Commission's 2015 net neutrality rules, everyone seemed to have an opinion. 

"Thanks to a bipartisan vote in the Senate, the American people are one step closer to having their free and open Internet restored. The 2015 net neutrality rules are extraordinarily popular, with recent polls showing that well over 80 percent of Americans support them. Now it’s up to the House of Representatives, and the American people will surely put the pressure on their Members to support the Joint Resolution of Disapproval. Don’t listen to the naysayers – momentum is on the side of those who favor restoring net neutrality now. We’ve seen the impossible become possible in past technology policy battles like the fight against the Stop Online Piracy Act and the successful effort to restore Title II of the Communications Act. Cable ISPs privately admit that they are concerned. With Americans united and the 2018 midterm election less than 6 months away, the Joint Resolution has a real chance of passing," said Gigi Sohn, a Distinguished Fellow at the Georgetown Law Institute for Technology Law & Policy and a Mozilla Fellow.

Fight for the Future Deputy Director Evan Greer said, "This is a historic victory for the free and open Internet, and a major step forward for the future of free expression and democracy. But we’re just getting started. When the FCC repealed net neutrality they unleashed the fury of the Internet, and it led to a backlash unlike anything ever seen before. People from across the political spectrum, from the far left to the far right, can all agree: they don’t want their cable company to control where they get their news and information, how they listen to music, or where they can stream videos. The fight for net neutrality is about freedom. Companies like Comcast and AT&T want the power to manipulate what we see and do online. People want the freedom to choose, to connect, and to express themselves."

“Today the Senate has taken a giant step toward unwinding the least-popular policy decision in the history of the FCC. The Senate vote is a historic win for supporters of Net Neutrality and a stinging rebuke to the army of phone- and cable-company lobbyists and lackeys trying to take away our internet freedom," said Free Press Action Fund President and CEO Craig Aaron. “Net Neutrality rules protect everyone’s right to a free and open internet. They safeguard free expression and choice, ensuring that people can start their own businesses, make their own media, further their education and fight for racial justice without fear of discrimination. That’s why so many people from across the political spectrum pushed their lawmakers to support this resolution — and the public pressure will only intensify as this measure moves to the House. We need to know whether our elected officials stand with the public in support of Net Neutrality or with greedy phone and cable companies that seek to sell off our online rights. We’ll be taking careful note of where each member stands and won’t stop advocating for Net Neutrality until the rights of all internet users are restored.”

Public Knowledge Vice President Chris Lewis said, "Americans of all ideologies support keeping the strong net neutrality rules. Recent polls show that 86 percent of Americans want to keep strong net neutrality rules, including 82 percent of Republicans and 90 percent of Democrats. Only in Washington is this controversial, largely due to the influence of high paid lobbyists for big cable and telecommunications companies like Comcast, Verizon, and AT&T. Outside Washington, net neutrality rules are popular, have supported billions of dollars in investment in broadband networks and services online, and was upheld in court twice. Net neutrality is what allows the internet to be a tool for free speech, permissionless innovation, and diverse voices on an infinite number of websites. Without it, cable and telecommunications companies are clear that they would block or prefer some content over others, making the internet look more like cable television with some content only accessible to those who can afford to pay more. Internet service providers have a long history of net neutrality violations and without rules they will finally have the freedom to discriminate online. Public Knowledge thanks the many Republican, Democratic, and Independent senators who championed preserving net neutrality rules. This starts with the resolution’s lead sponsor, Sen. Ed Markey, a tireless champion for preserving an Open Internet. After Sen. Markey’s bold leadership in charting a path forward using the CRA, Sen. Charles Schumer committed to working with Sen. Markey and other leaders on the Commerce Committee to organize support among a majority of senators."

“Today's Senate vote reflects what we've been hearing from millions of Americans for months: the desire for strong net neutrality rules that protect an open internet, free expression, small businesses, and the entire internet economy," said Sarah Morris, the Director of Open Internet Policy at New America’s Open Technology Institute. "OTI applauds the senators who listened to the outpouring of support for the net neutrality rules and took this vital step toward a restoration of strong and enforceable net neutrality rules. The bipartisan backing of the resolution reflects the strong public support for the 2015 net neutrality protections from Democrats, Republicans, and Independents. In the months since the FCC voted to repeal the net neutrality rules, the American people have raised their voices to tell their representatives in Congress to save those online protections, and have sent over 16 million emails and over 1 million calls to Congress. As this measure heads to the House, it would be prudent for members to take note of this sustained outcry and vote to preserve net neutrality.”

Carmen Scurato vice president, policy and general counsel at the National Hispanic Media Coalition said, "Today the Senate puts us one step closer towards preserving the strong FCC Net Neutrality rules which empowered Latinos and secured our right to access the Internet without discrimination. This is a historic moment in the fight to preserve Net Neutrality. We urge the House of Representatives to move this CRA forward and do their part to protect Latinos and other consumers in need of equal access online."

Ronald Newman, director of strategic initiatives for the American Civil Liberties Union, said "The public today understands that the free flow of information online is crucial to protecting free speech and maintaining space for political movements that safeguard our constitutional rights. We owe this win to the over 400,000 ACLU activists and hundreds of thousands of other activists across the country who are fighting for a free and open internet. With the Senate voting to reverse the FCC’s decision, the House is on notice. It's time for the House to act.”

"Having worked for 40 years promoting First Amendment values in media and telecommunications industries, I welcome today's vote as protecting free speech and democratic debate on the Internet," said Andrew Jay Schwartzman, veteran public interest attorney and Benton senior counselor at Georgetown University Law Center.

"Despite the influence from big cable and telecommunications companies who have poured oceans of money in their attempt to kill net neutrality rules, the Senate stood on the side of the American people in voting to pass this resolution," said Michael Copps, special advisor to Common Cause and former FCC commissioner and chairman

"Though the Democrats have legitimate concerns when it comes to the current net neutrality regime, the Congressional Review Act is not the right mechanism to address them," said Information Technology and Innovation Foundation's Director of Broadband and Spectrum Policy Doug Brake. "The legal framework the CRA would restore was designed for monopoly public utilities, not a dynamic 21stcentury technology. What’s more, the CRA vote is going to run into a brick wall in the Republican-controlled House. Now is the time for policymakers to work toward bipartisan compromise legislation that will stand the test of time."

Jonathan Spalter, President & CEO, USTelecom, said, “This vote throws into reverse our shared goal of maintaining an open, thriving internet. Consumers want permanent, comprehensive online protections, not half measures or election year posturing from our representatives in Congress.  While we are disappointed by this vote, broadband providers remain committed to safeguarding the digital lives of consumers and advancing bipartisan legislation that codifies net neutrality principles across the online world.”

"Senators on a bipartisan basis delivered passionate speeches about the importance of the internet and ensuring that consumers continue to enjoy an open and unfettered online experience. We couldn’t agree more which is why for years we have called on Members of Congress to craft bipartisan legislation that would finally and permanently enshrine net neutrality protections into law. Instead, the U.S. Senate has narrowly approved a largely symbolic measure that only prolongs this decade long controversy and does not provide consumers any assurances. It is also remarkable that a significant consequence of the CRA may be to weaken privacy protections at a time when consumers are growing more worried about privacy and feel government is not doing enough to protect them.  The importance of formulating sound internet policy demands that legislators of both parties sit down and work in earnest to craft enduring legislation, and we stand ready to help in this endeavor," said NCTA – The Internet & Television Association in a statement.

"Crafting reasonable, workable, and durable open Internet rules can be done, but it takes a serious effort. Senate Joint Resolution 52, which will not be enacted, is not it," said American Cable Association President and CEO Matthew Polka. "Senate Joint Resolution 52, which will not be enacted, is not it. The members of the American Cable Association believe it is time for all sides of this debate to come together to move open Internet legislation that once and for all establishes permanent rules prohibiting blocking and throttling and are applicable not just to ISPs but to all participants in the Internet-based economy. This legislation should also ensure ISPs are not regulated as common carriers. This century-old regulatory regime only serves to hamper the ability of smaller providers to invest in their networks, which are critical to their customers and closing the digital divide in rural America. The legislation should additionally permit ISPs to engage in reasonable network management and offer specialized services. Until such time that real ‘Net Neutrality’ legislation becomes law, customers of ISPs, particularly smaller ISPs, can rest assured they will be able to reach lawful Internet content of their choice and won’t find their access blocked, degraded, or otherwise inhibited. Customers of ACA members are their friends and neighbors, and ACA members pride themselves on giving customers reliable, high-performance broadband service. ACA members have no incentive or ability to harm upstream edge and content providers, and, quite frankly, just as in the video programming world, ACA members are more likely to be leveraged by edge players, to the detriment of ISPs’ customers.”

Broadband provider lobbyist ITTA President Genny Morelli said, "ITTA is disappointed that the United States Senate today passed a Congressional Review Act (CRA) resolution that would reinstate Title II regulation on the Internet. ITTA urges the House of Representatives to reject the Senate’s action, which perpetuates the uncertainty that has plagued the Internet ecosystem for too many years, so that the important work of legislating a permanent framework can begin in earnest. ITTA looks forward to working with Congressional leaders and industry stakeholders to preserve an open Internet while encouraging additional investment in broadband networks for future generations."

There should be no doubt that the broadband industry is fully committed to an open internet and we have repeatedly stated and consistently demonstrated our commitment to providing consumers an internet experience that is free from any blocking, throttling or unfair discrimination," said Broadband for America, which includes AT&T, CenturyLink, Charter, CTIA – The Wireless Association, Comcast, Cox, NCTA – The Internet & Television Association, Telecommunications Industry Association (TIA), and USTelecom-The Broadband Association. "Today’s CRA vote will saddle the internet with Depression-era Title II regulations, and is an unfortunate and unnecessary misstep that will do nothing to establish permanent net neutrality protections. From the outset, the CRA has been more about political calculations than creating sound policy that will secure an open internet for consumers. Now that this symbolic vote is behind us, we again call on all parties to come to the table and create a comprehensive, bipartisan solution that provides common sense net neutrality and privacy protections for American consumers, no matter where they go or what they do on the internet."

Chip Pickering, CEO of INCOMPAS and a former Republican Congressman from Mississippi, said "By surpassing expectations in the Senate, net neutrality saving efforts have gained tremendous momentum heading into the House of Representatives. This is a win for young Americans who want to start a business and consumers who have cut the cord and love the streaming revolution. Net neutrality has wide support from over 80 percent of Americans, including conservatives and Trump supporters. No one wants a cable gatekeeper controlling the internet and main street businesses in rural America are growing louder in their calls to keep the internet open and free. We commend all those in Congress who voted for the CRA, as well as those seeking a sincere bipartisan legislative solution that rebukes the FCC repeal and reinstates strong, bright line rules that include no blocking, no throttling, no paid prioritization and strong interconnection." INCOMPAS is the trade association advocating for competition policy across all networks.

Senate Commerce Committee Chairman John Thune (R-SD) proposed that S.J.Res. 52 be set aside and the Senate instead take up for amendment and consideration a draft he first put forward in 2015 with House of Representatives colleagues Reps. Fred Upton (R-MI) and Greg Walden (R-OR). “This vote was about politics, not protecting net neutrality. Unfortunately, it’s only going to delay Senate Democrats from coming to the table and negotiating bipartisan net neutrality legislation,” said Chairman Thune. “Today, I made a motion to put this resolution aside and take up a draft of net neutrality protection legislation, first floated in 2015, as a starting point for amendment and discussion. I’m disappointed but not surprised that Democrats rejected my offer to write, consider, and amend legislation in a process open to ideas from both sides of the aisle. Despite this vote, I remain committed to finding a path to bipartisan protections for the internet and stand ready to work with my colleagues on the other side of the aisle when they are ready as well.”

Three Republican senators voted for the resolution. 

After the vote Sen Susan Collins (R-Maine) said, "I have long supported common-sense regulations to prohibit Internet providers from prioritizing certain content over other.  I also support regulations to clarify that Internet providers must not manage their systems in an anti-competitive way. Restoring the FCC’s net neutrality rules will ensure that the Internet will remain open and continue to be a powerful and transformative platform of innovation and economic opportunity." Like many others, Collins also called for a "careful, deliberative process involving experts and the public" to "ensure that consumers have strong protections that guarantee consumer choice, free markets, and continued growth along with meaningful consumer privacy and data security protections."

Sen. Lise Murkowski (R-Alaska) explained her vote saying, "I have voted to pass this resolution today so that we can reset the discussion and move beyond the politics at play here to what is really needed—lasting legislation that will provide certainty and move us beyond shifting regulatory standards that depend on who is running the FCC. My interest is always protecting and improving Alaska’s internet connectivity, given our unique circumstances. At stake are rural health clinics and schools that rely on the prioritization of lifesaving telemedicine services and access to educational resources. We must pass legislation that prohibits harmful practices like blocking and throttling but also allows for exceptions to support the unique needs that we have in Alaska. We must stop trying to score political points and work together to ensure an open internet with privacy protections for all consumers."

"There are certain values that need to be preserved with respect to the internet," said Sen. John Kennedy (R-LA). "They include no illegal censorship, no throttling and no discrimination. Nearly 20% of all Americans and 22% of all Louisianans have one choice for an internet service provider who can deliver adequate upload and download speeds. Basically, they don’t have a choice. The vote came down to one thing and one thing only: How much do you trust your cable company?  I want to be able to trust everyone, but I believe verification is necessary for a free and open internet. I also believe in love, but I still own a handgun.”

 House Commerce Committee Chairman Greg Walden (R-OR) and Communications and Technology Subcommittee Chairman Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) made a joint statement. “The future of the internet should not be left to unelected government bureaucrats. It should be driven by what has always worked – innovation, American entrepreneurship, and a light-touch regulatory framework. A vote for the CRA was a vote to subject the internet to 1930s-era regulation, when one copper wire was considered advanced technology. What we saw today demonstrates that Senate Democrats are only interested in scoring political points, not coming to the table for good faith negotiations. Consumers deserve certainty, and that’s why we renew our call for a bipartisan, permanent, legislative solution to solve this important issue once and for all.”

“I congratulate the Senate on taking a giant step to restore real net neutrality back to the American people,” said House Commerce Ranking Member Frank Pallone, Jr. “Beltway insiders and special interests said that we would never get this far, but ultimately the American people understand how important net neutrality is.  Now the public will hold those of us in the House accountable for whether we support net neutrality or not.  That’s why I encourage my colleagues in the House to listen to the American people, force a vote on Ranking Member Doyle’s resolution, and send it to the President’s desk.” 

“The Senate vote is a major step forward in the fight to preserve Net Neutrality – and a great victory for the millions of Americans who use the internet," Rep Mike Doyle (D-PA) said. “But the fight isn’t over. We’ve got to get this bill through the House as well in order to overturn the FCC’s repeal of Net Neutrality. With the Majority Leadership in the House opposed to this bill, the only way to bring it before the full House for a vote is through a discharge petition,” Congressman Doyle explained. “Under the rules of the House, a bill MUST be brought to the House Floor for a vote if a majority of Representatives sign a discharge petition demanding it. I’m filing a discharge petition to force a vote on the legislation to save Net Neutrality, and we just need to get a majority of Representatives to sign it. I’m sure that every Member of the House will want to know where their constituents stand on this issue.” 

"It’s disappointing that Senate Democrats forced this resolution through by a narrow margin. But ultimately, I'm confident that their effort to reinstate heavy-handed government regulation of the Internet will fail," said FCC Chairman Ajit Pai. "“The Internet was free and open before 2015, when the prior FCC buckled to political pressure from the White House and imposed utility-style regulation on the Internet. And it will continue to be free and open once the Restoring Internet Freedom Order takes effect on June 11. Moreover, contrary to the scare tactics employed by Senate Democrats, which earned three Pinocchios from the Washington Post’s fact-checker, our light-touch approach will deliver better, faster, and cheaper Internet access and more broadband competition to the American people—something that millions of consumers desperately want and something that should be a top priority. The prior Administration’s regulatory overreach took us in the opposite direction, reducing investment in broadband networks and particularly harming small Internet service providers in rural and lower-income areas. Our approach will help promote digital opportunity—that is, making high-speed Internet access available to every single American so that they can be participants in, rather than spectators of, our digital economy."

FCC Commissioner Brendan Carr said, "Americans cherish the free and open Internet. They want more choices and greater competition. They want better, faster, and cheaper Internet access. At the FCC, we are focused on policies that will deliver those results. We are cutting billions of dollars’ worth of red tape that has been slowing broadband deployment. We are freeing up more spectrum for next-gen wireless broadband than any other country in the world. And we are promoting the deployment of broadband infrastructure from big cities to small towns. These policies—not multi-Pinocchio claims about the end of the Internet that are being promoted in service of partisan politics—are the path to delivering more broadband for more Americans. The FCC will continue the serious work we are doing to put these policies in place."

FCC Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel said, "Today the United States Senate took a big step to fix the serious mess the FCC made when it rolled back net neutrality late last year. The FCC's net neutrality repeal gave broadband providers extraordinary new powers to block websites, throttle services and play favorites when it comes to online content. This put the FCC on the wrong side of history, the wrong side of the law, and the wrong side of the American people. Today’s vote is a sign that the fight for internet freedom is far from over. I’ll keep raising a ruckus to support net neutrality and I hope others will too."

After Senate Vote on Net Neutrality, DC Responds Statement (Gigi Sohn) Statement (Free Press) Statement (Public Knowledge) Statement (New America) Statement (ITIF) Statement (Fight for the Future) Statement (USTelecom) Statement (NCTA) Statement (Chairman Thune) Statement (FCC Chairman Pai) Statement (FCC Commissioner Carr) Statement (FCC Commissioner Rosenworcel) Statement (NHMC) Statement (American Cable Association) ISPs and Ajit Pai are really sad about Senate’s vote for net neutrality (ars technica) Statement (Rep Doyle) Statement (Rep Pallone) Senate CRA Vote Gets D.C. Buzzing (B&C) Statement (ITTA) Statement (Broadband for America ) Statement (INCOMPAS)