WASHINGTON — Colorado U.S. Rep. Ed Perlmutter urged a House Committee Monday to move forward with legislation to restore net neutrality to the internet despite Republican resistance.
The bill would require Internet service providers to give equal access to all Internet communications. It would reinstate net neutrality rules repealed by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) in 2017. The repeal took effect last year.
Despite Republicans saying the bill requires more study and a threat from the president to veto it, Perlmutter said, “At some point, we want to move these things.”
The bill, H.R. 1644, is called the Save the Internet Act. It is scheduled for a vote in the House as soon as Tuesday.
The vote in Congress follows by days passage in the Colorado General Assembly of the state’s own net neutrality bill. It would ban internet service providers from receiving state funds if they slow consumer access to the internet or give priority to certain websites.
Gov. Jared Polis has indicated he will sign it.
The state law is controversial because it appears to conflict with Federal Communications Commission regulations. The FCC already has sued two states that enacted laws similar to the one pending in Colorado.
Perlmutter, D-Arvada, is a member of the House Rules Committee that was considering last-minute amendments to the federal legislative proposal Monday evening. The committee did not approve any significant changes to the bill.
It is expected to pass in the Democrat-controlled House but run into stiffer opposition in the Republican-dominated Senate.
The rules would prohibit internet service providers such as Google and Yahoo from intentionally blocking, slowing or charging money for specific online content.
The bill responds to complaints from consumers since the FCC repeal that corporations have too much control over their access to online information.
“In the suburbs of Denver I’ve gotten complaints about throttling and blocking and concerns about different things happening to folks as they enjoy the internet in one form or another,” Perlmutter said.
Internet service providers are giving priority to some traffic from paying customers, charging consumers varying rates for different levels of service and blocking information that benefits competitors, according to net neutrality advocates.
Among congressmen urging caution about the Save the Internet Act was Rep. Robert Latta, an Ohio Republican, who testified at the House Rules Committee hearing.
He called the bill “this heavy-handed approach” that creates too much government intervention into operation of the internet.
“You don’t need to take over the internet to write a net neutrality rule,” Latta said.
Some of the rules proposed by Democrats “are completely unrelated to net neutrality,” he said.
He added, “I don’t think this bill is going to have a chance.”
Latta’s prediction gained credibility when the White House released a statement Monday criticizing the Save the Internet Act.
“Last year, the FCC returned to the light-touch regulatory scheme that enabled the internet to develop and thrive for nearly two decades by promoting internet freedom and encouraging network investment,” the White House statement said.
It added that ”consumers have benefited from a greater than 35 percent increase in average, fixed broadband download speeds, and the United States rose to sixth, from 13th, in the world for those speeds. In 2018, fiber was also made available to more new homes than in any previous year, and capital investment by the nation’s top six internet service providers increased by $2.3 billion.”
The White House statement developed by the U.S. Office of Management and Budget said, “If H.R. 1644 were presented to the president, his advisers would recommend that he veto it.”
Rep. Donna Shalala, D-Fla., said faster broadband speeds were not the top priority for consumers.
“They do care about access though,” she said. “The polls show Americans are in favor of net neutrality.”