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House Republicans Urge Democrats to Back Net Neutrality Bills (1)

Feb. 21, 2019, 10:00 PMUpdated: Feb. 22, 2019, 3:11 AM

House Republicans are doubling down on their calls for Democrats to work with them on bipartisan net neutrality legislation.

Rep. Greg Walden (R-Ore.), the ranking member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, and two other GOP committee members are urging Democrats to back three Republican measures that they say would restore net neutrality principles.

“We all agree on the need to legislate baseline protections for net neutrality, open internet, or whatever new term may be coined for the consumer protection principles that are supported by Republicans and Democrats alike,” Walden wrote in a Feb. 21 letter to committee chairman Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-N.J.) and Rep. Mike Doyle (D-Pa.), who chairs the panel’s Communications and Technology Subcommittee, obtained by Bloomberg Law.

Reps. Bob Latta (R-Ohio), the ranking member of the Communications and Technology Subcommittee, and Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-Wash.) joined Walden in the letter.

Democrats and Republicans alike back net neutrality rules that ban internet service providers from blocking or slowing web traffic on their networks. But they disagree over whether broadband internet should be regulated as a utility-style service under the Title II of the Communications Act..

The Republicans also called for bipartisanship at a subcommittee hearing held earlier this month on the Federal Communication Commission’s repeal of Obama-era net neutrality rules. Those rules, in addition to enacting net neutrality principles, classified ISPs under Title II.

Walden, Latta, and McMorris Rodgers have introduced separate bills, H.R.1101, H.R. 1006, and H.R.1096, that would require ISPs to treat web traffic equally, without classifying broadband as a Title II service.

“These are all reasonable and achievable proposals, and each gives us a path to protect consumers without invoking the heavy hand of Title II of the Communications Act of 1934, which would give the government unbridled power to tax the internet, institute costly fees, set prices and terms of plans, and even take control of assets,” the GOP lawmakers wrote.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit is weighing challenges to the FCC’s net neutrality rollback. An array of groups representing ISPs, tech companies, and consumer advocates are urging Congress to settle the issue with legislation.

A spokesperson for Pallone declined to comment. A spokesperson for Doyle did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

To contact the reporter on this story: Jon Reid in Washington at jreid@bloomberglaw.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Keith Perine at kperine@bloomberglaw.com