Mitch McConnell declares net neutrality bill "dead on arrival" in the Senate

Despite McConnell saying net neutrality would be "dead on arrival," a majority of senators supported it last year

By Matthew Rozsa

Staff Writer

Published April 10, 2019 2:28PM (EDT)

Mitch McConnell (AP/Salon)
Mitch McConnell (AP/Salon)

If a net neutrality bill passes the House of Representatives, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said it would be "dead on arrival" in the upper chamber.

The bill in question would restore the net neutrality rules implemented by former President Barack Obama in 2015, according to Reuters. On Tuesday the House of Representatives, which is controlled by the Democrats, decided to delay a vote both on that bill and a series of proposed amendments to the legislation due to an unrelated issue over a different budget provision.

The bill, which was dubbed the Save The Internet Act, later passed on Wednesday. In response, CREDO Action Campaign Manager Brandy Doyle released a statement praising the decision by saying that "today’s vote is exactly what Americans want from their representatives in Congress. The leaders who voted for net neutrality chose to side with more than 80 percent of Americans over giant corporations. People care about maintaining the Internet as an open platform accessible to everyone, and outside of Washington, net neutrality is a wildly popular bipartisan issue. Voters will punish the lawmakers, overwhelmingly Republicans, who voted to let massive corporations monetize the internet at will."

"As this fight moves to the Senate, lawmakers would be wise to pay attention to the vast majority of their constituents, as well as the evidence of real harm caused by repealing net neutrality rules," Doyle added. "Millions of people from across the country have spoken out and we won't stop until we win. Together we can shake some Senators loose from under the thumb of some of the world’s most powerful corporations. And we’re going to name and shame every single one who shows they think corporations don’t have enough power in this country by voting against the open internet."

The purpose of net neutrality is to prevent Internet service providers from throttling web content and creating so-called internet fast lanes, both of which could benefit large corporations at the expense of consumers, according to The Hill.

Despite McConnell declaring Tuesday that net neutrality would be "dead on arrival," a majority of senators supported it last year. In addition to every Democrat, three Senate Republicans — Sens. Susan Collins of Maine, John Kennedy of Louisiana and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska — voted to reinstate Obama's net neutrality rules. Although that bill died in the House when the lower chamber was still controlled by Republicans, the fact that it was able to garner majority support in the Senate means McConnell would possibly need to use the parliamentary tactics at his disposal in order to prevent it from even reaching a vote.

While net neutrality is expected to help large businesses, this does not mean Silicon Valley unilaterally supports it. In a public letter from 2017, when FCC Chairman Ajit Pai was still contemplating revoking net neutrality, leaders of online businesses including Reddit, Twitter and Tumblr signed a public letter opposing the then-proposed action.

"Without these rules, Internet service providers will be able to favor certain websites and e-businesses, or the platforms they use to garner new customers, over others by putting the ones that can pay in fast lanes and slowing down or even blocking others," the letter read. "Businesses may have to pay a toll just to reach customers. This would put small and medium-sized businesses at a disadvantage and prevent innovative new ones from even getting off the ground."

"An Internet without net neutrality protections would be the opposite of the open market, with a few powerful cable and phone companies picking winners and losers instead of consumers," it later added.

In February 2018, when the repeal of net neutrality was announced, the FCC explained in the Federal Register that it wished to return "to the llight-touch regulatory scheme that enabled the Internet to develop and thrive for nearly two decades. The commission restores the classification of broadband Internet access service as a lightly-regulated information service and reinstates the private mobile service classification of mobile broadband Internet access service."

By Matthew Rozsa

Matthew Rozsa is a staff writer at Salon. He received a Master's Degree in History from Rutgers-Newark in 2012 and was awarded a science journalism fellowship from the Metcalf Institute in 2022.

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