This was a vote on a resolution setting a time limit for debate and prohibiting amendments to legislation overturning federal “network neutrality” rules. (“Network Neutrality” refers to a regulation prohibiting Internet service companies from giving preferential treatment to online content providers that pay more for faster service.)
Supporters of network neutrality argued that allowing major high-speed Internet companies such as Verizon and AT&T to charge Web site owners higher fees for faster service would lead to an essentially “two-tiered” system. In other words, content providers with more money would thrive as a result of being able to pay for faster service. Less affluent web site owners, meanwhile, could see their traffic slow to a crawl as a result of slower, cheaper service.
The Federal Communications Commission (FCC--which regulates interstate and international communication) had imposed network neutrality rules on Internet service providers in 2010. The underlying legislation would have overturned the FCC’s rule.
Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) urged support for the resolution and the underlying bill: “if you like the Internet that you have, we are saying we want you to keep it. Mr. Speaker, there has been no market failure. Over 80 percent of all Americans are pleased with the Internet service that they have. What they do not want to see is the Obama administration step in front of these Internet service providers and say, We the government are here to change your Internet. We are here to take control of your Internet. That is exactly what net neutrality would do. Net neutrality is the federal government stepping in and saying, We're going to come first. We're going to assign priority and value to content…As I said, there has been no market failure, and there is no need for this government overreach.”
Rep. Jared Polis (D-CO) opposed the resolution and the underlying bill: “…The absence of a net neutrality regime would be the government deliberately conveying value as gatekeepers to the broadband providers and allowing them to decide, based on religious or ideological or economic--or whatever criteria that they want--what kind of Internet they intend to serve up to their users. I would like to add that… this open Internet rule [which the underlying legislation overturned] will add the very certainty to investors and companies that we need and predictability in our marketplace that allows companies to continue to grow and invest in job growth….I believe strongly in Internet, in Internet as an achievement for mankind, in Internet that net neutrality will help preserve for our generation and the next.”
The House agreed to this resolution by a vote of 241-178. All 236 Republicans present and 5 Democrats voted “yea.” 178 Democrats voted “nay.” As a result, the House proceeded to formal floor debate on legislation overturning federal “network neutrality” rules.