Just when you thought Net neutrality was going to be the law of the land soon, Washington politics intervene. Now it looks as if the highly charged political atmosphere in Washington could put the enforcement of the FCC’s proposed Net neutrality rules on hold or even kill them altogether. Today, an amendment to the Republican-controlled U.S. House of Representative’s budget proposal for 2012 passed the House vote that would ban the FCC from using any part of its budget for enacting the newly proposed Net neutrality rules. The amendment was proposed by Republican representative Greg Walden of Oregon, the chairman of the Subcommittee on Communications and Technology. The amendment passed the House by a vote of 244-181. Votes were mostly along party lines.
Here is the short summary of amendment #404:
The amendment would prohibit the use of funds made available by this Act to be used to implement the Report and Order of the Federal Communications Commission relating to the matter of preserving the open Internet and broadband industry practices.
In a press release issued after the amendment passed, Walden argued that “we all want an open and thriving Internet. That Internet exists today. Consumers can access anything they want with the click of a mouse thanks to our historical hands-off approach. I am pleased that my colleagues in the House accepted my amendment to ensure the FCC does not have the funds to implement the controversial Internet regulations.”
Once the House passes its version of the budget, it will have to be reconciled with the version of the Senate, which is controlled by the Democrats.
It would probably be hard to argue that banning the FCC from enforcing Net neutrality rules would do anything to reduce the forecasted $1.4 trillion deficit. While most Democrats and President Obama are generally in favor of giving the FCC control over enforcing strict Net neutrality regulations, this year’s budget discussion will likely become extremely heated and Net neutrality could just fall to the wayside in these debates.