Democrats’ net neutrality bill heads to the House floor

The bill that will restore Obama-era net neutrality protections is expected to pass the House. But it'll likely stall in the Senate.

Marguerite Reardon Former senior reporter
Marguerite Reardon started as a CNET News reporter in 2004, covering cellphone services, broadband, citywide Wi-Fi, the Net neutrality debate and the consolidation of the phone companies.
Marguerite Reardon
2 min read

The full House or Representatives will vote on the Democrats' bill to restore net neutrality next week.

Marguerite Reardon/CNET

The bill House Democrats are pushing to restore net neutrality protections made it out of committee and is headed for a full vote on the floor next week.

On Wednesday, the House Energy and Commerce Committee voted 30-22 along party-lines to approve the Save the Internet Act, which would reinstate the Federal Communications Commission's Obama-era net neutrality regulations. The rules were repealed in December 2017 by the Republican-led FCC. These rules prevent broadband providers from blocking, slowing down or charging for faster access to the internet.

The new legislation also restores the FCC's authority as the "cop on the beat" when it comes to policing potential broadband abuses. As part of the 2017 repeal, the FCC had abdicated its authority to protect consumers online to the Federal Trade Commission.

Prior to the committee vote, Republicans tried to gut the bill with more than a dozen amendments, many of which would have undercut the FCC's authority to enforce the rules. But Democrats rejected them all.

Republicans, like Rep. Greg Walden of Oregon, complained the Democrats' bill imposes heavy-handed regulation, and he called on his colleagues to come up with a compromise bill.

"This, my friends, is not the net neutrality that people want," he said. "It's actually more government socialism and frankly it's worse."

But Democrats pushed back stating that the FCC is the proper government agency to provide oversight.

"We believe [the FCC] needs to be the cop on the beat," said Mike Doyle, a Democrat from Pennsylvania. "And we believe they need to have the flexibility to address issues that may come down the road that we don't know about today."

Doyle, who chairs the subcommittee where the bill was introduced, had previously promised it would get a vote on the House floor in April.

The bill is expected to pass the Democrat-controlled House, but it faces an uphill battle in the Senate, where Republicans hold a majority. That said, Democrats were able to pass a Congressional Review Act resolution in the Senate last year that would've repealed the FCC's order to dismantle the 2015 rules. But it's unlikely any Republicans will defect again to pass the legislation.