5 Minnesota reps support effort in U.S. House to restore net neutrality

Some members of the U.S. House are trying to undo the FCC's open internet rollback.

What happened?

An effort to block the FCC's rollback of net neutrality protections is getting started n the U.S. House.

A total of 81 representatives have agreed to cosponsor Rep. Mike Doyle's legislation to restore net neutrality rules, his office announced Tuesday. It's similar to what's been proposed over in the U.S. Senate.

Why are they doing this?

Net neutrality is the idea that all (legal) sites and apps on the internet should be treated equally. A 2015 rule by the Obama administration required internet service providers to adhere to this – no deliberately blocking or slowing content, and no offering paid fast lanes to content providers.

On Dec. 14, the FCC – led by Chair Ajit Pai – voted 3-2 to reclassify broadband internet and effectively undo those rules. Pai argues the net neutrality regulation stifled investments and innovation.

But critics – such as Doyle and his 81 cosponsors – say the elimination of these open internet rules favors telecom companies and hurts consumers.

Citing "overwhelming" public support for net neutrality (which polls such as this one back up), Doyle said: "I’m confident that if there’s enough public pressure, Congress will overturn the FCC’s order killing net neutrality.”

Do Minnesota's U.S. reps support it?

Five of them have publicly come out as cosponsors, all DFLers: Tim Walz, Betty McColllum, Keith Ellison, Collin Peterson and Rick Nolan. 

Walz called free and open internet "integral fo a free and open society," while McCollum said the FCC's repeal "undermines" America's key principles and hurts consumers.

Added Nolan: "Huge corporations shouldn’t have the power to decide what specific websites you can see or what your loading speeds will be."

The state's three Republican U.S. reps – Jason Lewis, Erik Paulsen and Tom Emmer – are not listed as cosponsors.

Will it go anywhere

That's questionable. 

The plan is to use a Congressional Review Act (CRA) resolution. It's a way for Congress to cancel out rule and regulation changes put into effect by federal agencies, Brookings Institute explains.

Eighty-one cosponsors is a lot – but the proposal will need a majority of the U.S. House's 435 representatives to actually pass. Republicans control the House, and they seem far less keen than Democrats to re-establish net neutrality this way.

The Senate would also have to approve the resolution (more on this below), where it would then go to President Donald Trump for his signature, or a veto.

What about the Senate's effort?

Over in the Senate, net neutrality supporters hit a key milestone.

Last week, nearly 40 senators – including Amy Klobuchar and Tina Smith – had offered their support for using a CRA resolution to reinstate net neutrality.

The number has since grown to 50, with all 49 Democrats plus one Republican (Susan Collins of Maine) saying they'll vote in support of the resolution. 

If one more GOP senator opts to vote that way as well, it's enough for the proposal to pass the Senate.

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