Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Dems Draw Line on Net Neutrality

Democrats on Tuesday vowed to stand firm against any efforts by Republicans to Roll Back the Federal Communications Commission's (FCC) Net Neutrality Rules.

"The big broadband barons and their Republican allies want to turn back the clock and make big cable and big cellphone companies the gatekeepers for internet access," Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) said at a Press Conference in the Capitol. "They have a new FCC chairman in Ajit Pai who will do their bidding."

Supporters of the Internet Rules, which require Broadband Providers to treat all Traffic the same, are worried Net Neutrality could be on the chopping block under a GOP-controlled Congress and Federal Communication Commission (FCC).

FCC Chairman Pai has said he wants to revisit the Rules, and Senate Commerce Committee Chairman John Thune (R-S.D.) said Congressional Republicans are prepared to try again at a Legislative fix that could pare back the Rules. Thune has said he would like to work with Democrats on addressing concerns about Net Neutrality.

Democrats on Tuesday said they would reject any efforts to undercut the Rules.

"I will oppose any legislative efforts to weaken the net neutrality order," Markey added.

Markey didn't say if he would be willing to work with Republicans on a Compromise. And he added that he was not aware of details on a potential offer from Republicans.

But some Democrats may be willing to work with Republicans on changes to the Rules.

Sen. Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii), who sits on the Commerce Committee along with Markey, said in late January that he would be open to a Deal on Net Neutrality. "The Commerce Committee and the FCC have been islands of nonpartisanship over the years and only recently have there been so many party-line votes," Schatz said. "So perhaps Chairman Pai can get back to a place where the FCC does the work of trying to arrive at compromises."

Schatz at the time also warned that if Republicans attempt to change the Rules on their own, Dems would "dig in" and "fight accordingly." When questioned further today, Schaatz was less optimistic about the potential for a Compromise.

"I just don't think that there's a willingness to do something that would enshrine net neutrality in the statute," Schaatz said. "I don't think there's any appetite right now among Republicans to codify net neutrality as a matter of law. If there were, we could talk, but they haven't shown any willingness to do that."

NYC Wins When Everyone Can Vote! Michael H. Drucker
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