President Obama is threatening to veto a backdoor attempt by House Republicans to kill net neutrality.
Obama’s veto threat was made through a Statement of Administration Policy:
The Administration strongly opposes House passage of H.R. 2666, the No Rate Regulation of Broadband Internet Access Act, which would undermine key provisions in the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) Open Internet order and harm the Commission’s ability to protect consumers while facilitating innovation and economic growth.
For almost a century, our laws have recognized that companies that connect Americans to the world have special obligations not to exploit the gatekeeper power they enjoy over access in and out of our homes and businesses. The same philosophy should guide any service that is based on the transmission of information, whether a phone call or a packet of data. The FCC’s rules — issued after a lengthy rulemaking process that garnered an unprecedented amount of public input, including comments from four million Americans — recognize that broadband service is of the same importance, and must carry the same obligations as so many of the other vital services do. These carefully‑designed rules have already been implemented in large part with little or no adverse impact on the telecommunications companies making important investments in our economy.
H.R. 2666 is overly broad and extends far beyond codifying the FCC’s forbearance from applying provisions of the Communications Act related to tariffs, rate approval, or other forms of utility regulation. Even as amended, H.R. 2666 would restrict the FCC’s ability to take enforcement actions to protect consumers on issues where the FCC has received numerous consumer complaints. The bill also would hamstring the FCC’s public interest authority to review transactions. H.R. 2666 also could limit the Commission’s ability to address new practices and adapt its rules for a dynamic, fast-changing online marketplace.
If the President were presented with H.R. 2666, his senior advisors would recommend that he veto the bill.
The House Republican bill is a backdoor effort to kill net neutrality by taking away the FCC’s power to regulate broadband providers and enforce net neutrality rules.
FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler explained in a March 2016 letter to House Republicans how the broad language of the bill threatens net neutrality, “It would introduce significant uncertainty into the Commission’s ability to enforce the three bright line rules that bar blocking, throttling, and paid prioritization rules, as well as our general conduct rule that would be applied to issues such as data caps and zero rating. It would also cast doubt on the ability of the Commission to ensure that broadband providers receiving universal service subsidies do not overcharge their consumers. Finally, it would hamstring aspects of the Commission’s merger review process.”
Polls have found that as many as 80% of Americans support the broad concept of net neutrality. Sixty-five percent of those polled felt that Internet Service Providers needed to be regulated. While most Americans don’t understand the policy details of net neutrality, they have embraced the general concept of an open Internet.
President Obama’s veto threat is a fantastic firewall against unpopular action by the Republican-controlled Congress, but the bill itself is a reminder of what is at stake in the 2016 presidential election. A Republican-controlled White House and Congress will kill net neutrality.
If Republicans win in November, the Internet will go the way of other forms of media. Corporate giants are aching to get control of the Net and kill the one of the final frontiers of technological equality and innovation.
Mr. Easley is the founder/managing editor and Senior White House and Congressional correspondent for PoliticusUSA. Jason has a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science. His graduate work focused on public policy, with a specialization in social reform movements.
Awards and Professional Memberships
Member of the Society of Professional Journalists and The American Political Science Association