House Communications Subcommittee Approves Internet Policy Statement Bill

Voice Vote Comes after Republicans Agreed to Consider Changes
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A mark-up hearing in the House Communications Subcommittee was over almost before it had begun, and a Republican-backed bill that would make U.S. support of a multistakeholder model of Internet governance the law of the land, rather than just the sense of the Congress, was favorably reported to the full Energy & Commerce committee by voice vote and without amendment.

It also followed assurances from Republicans that their bill would not pave the way for revoking FCC authority to impose net neutrality regs. The vote was really just a procedural move signaling that the negotiations between Republicans and Democrats over their ongoing differences on the bill will now come in meetings and full committee mark up.

The bill's language mirrors a resolution passed unanimously by both House and Senate last session as a message to foreign governments looking to exert more control over Internet governance. It holds that: "It is the policy of the United States to promote a global Internet free from government control and to preserve and advance the successful multistakeholder model that governs the Internet."

While Thursday's voice vote approval would appear to be a big surprise given the problems Democrats expressed with the bill's potential unintended consequences, turns out the Republicans said they didn't want those unintended consequences either--though they maintained they didn't think they would materiallize--and agreed to get together with Democratic staffers to talk about amending the bill, or drafting a new statement, before the bill is voted on in full committee.

In his opening statement Thursday, Walden continued to maintain that the bill did not require or authorize the FCC to take any action regarding its network neutrality rules, which are currently being challenged in court because a policy statement, even one in law, does not impose statutorily mandated obligations on the agency.

He pointed out that the National Cable & Telecommunications Association, Google and others supported the bill. NCTA President Michael Powell sent Walden a letter April 10 saying the trade group supported adopting legislation this Congress that reiterated Congress' support of an Internet free of government control.

That said, he also said there had been some misunderstanding and he was willing to talk over the Democrats issues, with "everything on the table," if they would agree to withhold their amendments for now.

Both Waxman and Rep. Anna Eshoo (D-Calif.), ranking member of the subcommittee, agreed, though Waxman was kind of unhappy with Walden's opening statement, at least the part where he reiterated that he didn't see a problem with codifying the resolution.

Eshoo said she wanted them to be able to come reach compromise on the language because she thought the bill could strengthen the hands of diplomats and present a unified front against repressive regimes.

Likely one of the reasons Waxman was not happy with Walden's statement was that in Waxman's opening statement the day before, he had expressed concerns that Republicans did not want to include a clause clarifying the FCC's authority. Walden said that such a clause was not only unnecessary, but that he didn't want to start introducing caveats that would encourage foreign governments to justify their own.

House Communications Subcommittee Approves Internet Policy Statement Bill

Voice vote only comes after Republicans agreed to consider changes before full committee vote, Dems agree to hold off amendments

A mark-up hearing in the House Communications Subcommittee was over almost before it had begun, and a Republican-backed bill that would make U.S. support of a multistakeholder model of Internet governance the law of the land, rather than just the sense of the Congress, was favorably reported to the full Energy & Commerce committee by voice vote and without amendment.

It also followed assurances from Republicans that their bill would not pave the way for revoking FCC authority to impose net neutrality regs.

The vote was really just a procedural move signaling that the negotiations between Republicans and Democrats over their ongoing differences on the bill will now come in meetings and full committee mark up.

The bill's language mirrors a resolution passed unanimously by both House and Senate last session as a message to foreign governments looking to exert more control over Internet governance. It holds that: "It is the policy of the United States to promote a global Internet free from government control and to preserve and advance the successful multistakeholder model that governs the Internet."

While Thursday's voice vote approval would appear to be a big surprise given the problems Democrats expressed with the bill's potential unintended consequences, turns out the Republicans said they didn't want those unintended consequences either--though they maintained they didn't think they would materiallize--and agreed to get together with Democratic staffers to talk about amending the bill, or drafting a new statement, before the bill is voted on in full committee.

In his opening statement Thursday, Walden continued to maintain that the bill did not require or authorize the FCC to take any action regarding its network neutrality rules, which are currently being challenged in court because a policy statement, even one in law, does not impose statutorily mandated obligations on the agency.

He pointed out that the National Cable & Telecommunications Association, Google and others supported the bill. NCTA President Michael Powell sent Walden a letter April 10 saying the trade group supported adopting legislation this Congress that reiterated Congress' support of an Internet free of government control.

That said, he also said there had been some misunderstanding and he was willing to talk over the Democrats issues, with "everything on the table," if they would agree to withhold their amendments for now.

Both Waxman and Rep. Anna Eshoo (D-Calif.), ranking member of the subcommittee, agreed, though Waxman was kind of unhappy with Walden's opening statement, at least the part where he reiterated that he didn't see a problem with codifying the resolution.

Eshoo said she wanted them to be able to come reach compromise on the language because she thought the bill could strengthen the hands of diplomats and present a unified front against repressive regimes.

Likely one of the reasons Waxman was not happy with Walden's statement was that in Waxman's opening statement the day before, he had expressed concerns that Republicans did not want to include a clause clarifying the FCC's authority. Walden said that such a clause was not only unnecessary, but that he didn't want to start introducing caveats that would encourage foreign governments to justify their own.

House Communications Subcommittee Approves Internet Policy Statement Bill

Voice vote only comes after Republicans agreed to consider changes before full committee vote, Dems agree to hold off amendments

A mark-up hearing in the House Communications Subcommittee was over almost before it had begun, and a Republican-backed bill that would make U.S. support of a multistakeholder model of Internet governance the law of the land, rather than just the sense of the Congress, was favorably reported to the full Energy & Commerce committee by voice vote and without amendment.

It also followed assurances from Republicans that their bill would not pave the way for revoking FCC authority to impose net neutrality regs.

The vote was really just a procedural move signaling that the negotiations between Republicans and Democrats over their ongoing differences on the bill will now come in meetings and full committee mark up.

The bill's language mirrors a resolution passed unanimously by both House and Senate last session as a message to foreign governments looking to exert more control over Internet governance. It holds that: "It is the policy of the United States to promote a global Internet free from government control and to preserve and advance the successful multistakeholder model that governs the Internet."

While Thursday's voice vote approval would appear to be a big surprise given the problems Democrats expressed with the bill's potential unintended consequences, turns out the Republicans said they didn't want those unintended consequences either--though they maintained they didn't think they would materiallize--and agreed to get together with Democratic staffers to talk about amending the bill, or drafting a new statement, before the bill is voted on in full committee.

In his opening statement Thursday, Walden continued to maintain that the bill did not require or authorize the FCC to take any action regarding its network neutrality rules, which are currently being challenged in court because a policy statement, even one in law, does not impose statutorily mandated obligations on the agency.

He pointed out that the National Cable & Telecommunications Association, Google and others supported the bill. NCTA President Michael Powell sent Walden a letter April 10 saying the trade group supported adopting legislation this Congress that reiterated Congress' support of an Internet free of government control.

That said, he also said there had been some misunderstanding and he was willing to talk over the Democrats issues, with "everything on the table," if they would agree to withhold their amendments for now.

Both Waxman and Rep. Anna Eshoo (D-Calif.), ranking member of the subcommittee, agreed, though Waxman was kind of unhappy with Walden's opening statement, at least the part where he reiterated that he didn't see a problem with codifying the resolution.

Eshoo said she wanted them to be able to come reach compromise on the language because she thought the bill could strengthen the hands of diplomats and present a unified front against repressive regimes.

Likely one of the reasons Waxman was not happy with Walden's statement was that in Waxman's opening statement the day before, he had expressed concerns that Republicans did not want to include a clause clarifying the FCC's authority. Walden said that such a clause was not only unnecessary, but that he didn't want to start introducing caveats that would encourage foreign governments to justify their own.

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