Reaction came almost immediately -- within seconds in some cases -- to the expected defeat Thursday of a resolution to block the Federal Communications Commission's network neutrality rules.
Actually the vote was on proceeding to a vote, and Republicans backing the measure could technically reintroduce it. But given that the Democrats controlling Congress defeated that preliminary vote, it is unlikely given the signals Dems sent Thursday, and have been sending since the GOP-controlled House passed a similar resolution earlier this year. The vote Thursday was being viewed as the end of that effort to use the little-used legislative maneuver of nullifying a regulation.
"I am pleased that the Senate voted down this misguided resolution," said Senate Commerce Committee chairman Jay Rockefeller (D-W. Va.). "By keeping the Open Internet rules in place, we can protect consumers, inspire innovation, and foster investment in the broadband economy. These rules are the product of hard work, consensus, and compromise. During this process, the agency received written input from more than 100,000 commenters, 90 percent of which supported adoption of the Open Internet rules. So at the end of the day, the FCC's light-touch approach to network neutrality prevailed, and that is a good thing."
"The United States Senate today made it clear that consumers should have control over their experiences on an Open Internet," said Public Knowledge president Gigi Sohn. "Despite the cloak of anti-government rhetoric of the legislation's opponents, the reality is that a defeat of the resolution would have given control over to Big Telecom companies for their benefit on an Internet manipulated for their benefit."
Sohn said she agreed with a number of Senators, including Rockefeller, who have concerns that the rules do not apply to wireless broadband, but said that, for now, "it is sufficient for the rules the Federal Communications Commission has crafted to go into effect on Nov. 20."
"It's discouraging that the Senate was unable to overcome partisan political bickering to overturn a regulation for which the FCC has no congressional authority to implement," said Taxpayers Protection Alliance president David Williams. "In addition to conveying a direct misuse of power by the FCC, net neutrality rules will do unnecessary damage to consumers, companies and the economy-at-large by increasing operating costs for service providers and consumers Unfortunately, with the Senate's failure to pass this legislation, we can now look forward to decreased incentives for the communications and technology industries to invest in jobs, innovation, and the American economy."
"Apparently, a majority in the Senate believe the FCC must fix what ain't broke on the Internet, standing behind the agency's unwarranted net neutrality regulations," said Mike Wendy, director of MediaFreedom/org. "Casting their 19th century votes for our 21st century Internet, the majority reveals how out of step they are with markets, the advance of technology, and, of course, individual liberty."
Republicans oppose the rules as an unnecessary, job-killing and innovation-stifling overreach by an FCC that lacked the authority from Congress to implement new net regulations, while Democrats said they were reasonable, compromise rules that allowed for investment but were a check on the potential -- and perhaps reality -- of ISPs blocking or degrading content for business or political reasons.