ISPs and Ajit Pai are really sad about Senate’s vote for net neutrality

Broadband lobby groups and FCC Chairman Ajit Pai are upset about yesterday’s US Senate vote to restore net neutrality rules and are calling on Republican lawmakers to kill the effort in the House.

Yesterday’s Senate vote “throws into reverse our shared goal of maintaining an open, thriving Internet,” said USTelecom, which represents AT&T, Verizon, CenturyLink, and other telcos.

USTelecom claimed to speak on behalf of Internet users, saying that “Consumers want permanent, comprehensive online protections, not half measures or election year posturing from our representatives in Congress.”

Cable lobby group NCTA also condemned the Senate vote—while trying to convince the public that its members support net neutrality. Both USTelecom and NCTA were part of a failed lawsuit that sought to kill net neutrality rules, but they got their wish when the Federal Communications Commission voted to repeal them in December 2017.

Pai predicts failure in House

The Senate yesterday voted 52-47 to reverse the FCC repeal of net neutrality rules. If the House and President Trump also approve the measure, ISPs would have to continue following rules that prohibit blocking, throttling, and paid prioritization. Pai’s net neutrality repeal is slated to take effect on June 11, unless Congress stops it.

Pai defended his net neutrality repeal, saying that having no net neutrality rules at all “will help promote digital opportunity” and “mak[e] high-speed Internet access available to every single American.” Pai said he is “confident that [Democrats’] effort to reinstate heavy-handed government regulation of the Internet will fail” in the House.

Pai’s statement did not explain how eliminating rules against blocking or throttling Internet content would help expand Internet access. Pai has previously claimed that the net neutrality repeal is already spurring new broadband investment, but his evidence consisted mostly of deployments that were planned during the Obama administration or funded directly by the FCC before Pai was the chair.

The Senate vote also drew condemnation from wireless lobby group CTIA, Charter Communications, and AT&T, among others.

CTIA said that the FCC’s repeal of net neutrality rules hasn’t prevented Americans from accessing online content—but CTIA failed to note that the rules are still in effect. “[T]he predictions of naysayers failed to materialize” after the December repeal vote, CTIA wrote. “[O]ur wireless experience remains open and fast, and we can access the content of our choosing when and how we want.”

Charter argued that the net neutrality rules and common carrier regulation of broadband “treat the Internet like a government controlled utility, restrict innovation and deter broadband deployment to less populated communities.”

Democrats will try to force House vote

While Democratic lawmakers pushed the net neutrality bill through the Senate, Republicans have a 236-193 majority in the House and may be able to kill the effort to preserve net neutrality. Democrats need a majority of representatives to sign a discharge petition in order to force a House vote.

“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,” Rep. Mike Doyle (D-Penn.), who is filing the petition, said yesterday. “I’m sure that every member of the House will want to know where their constituents stand on this issue.”

In the Senate, three Republican senators broke ranks in order to vote for net neutrality rules. House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) supported the FCC’s net neutrality repeal and could try to prevent the Democrats’ resolution from coming to a vote.

“I encourage my colleagues in the House to listen to the American people, force a vote on… Doyle’s resolution, and send it to the president’s desk,” Rep. Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-N.J.) said.

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