Congress Won't Stop FCC From Enforcing Net Neutrality

Congress on Wednesday unveiled a proposed funding bill that won't restrict the Federal Communications Commission's ability to enforce the open Internet rules.

The move comes several days after a coalition of leading Web companies urged lawmakers to reject a Republican-led push for riders that could have gutted the net neutrality rules. Those rules, passed by the FCC in February, reclassify broadband as a common carrier service, and prohibit carriers from blocking or degrading content, and from creating paid fast lanes.

In June, the House Appropriations Committee released a funding bill that would have prevented the agency from enforcing the rules until a court has ruled on their validity. That bill did not advance, but observers thought it would influence the more recent negotiations.



A separate rider would have banned rate regulation of broadband carriers -- although the FCC has said that it has no intention of setting the rates that Internet service providers can charge for broadband service.

The proposal unveiled on Wednesday increases FCC funding to $344 million, marking a $44 million increase from last year. Congress is expected to vote on the proposal by the end of this week.

Advocacy group Public Knowledge cheered the news of the riders' removals. "The compromise struck by the White House and Congressional leadership is a victory for the millions of Americans who support maintaining an Open Internet," Chris Lewis, vice president of government affairs, said in a statement.

Although Congress isn't blocking the net neutrality rules, a court could still do so. Broadband providers recently asked a federal appellate court to vacate the rules, arguing that the FCC lacked authority to declare broadband a utility service. The D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals heard arguments on the matter earlier this month.

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