WASHINGTON — Rep. Mike Coffman (R-Colo.) said that he would sign a petition to force a vote in the House to restore the FCC’s net neutrality rules, becoming the first GOP member to sign on to the Democratic-led effort.
The Senate voted in May to restore the FCC rules, giving Democrats a rare victory in reversing the actions of a federal agency in the President Donald Trump era. Three Republicans voted for the resolution.
The Congressional Review Act provides an avenue for lawmakers to reverse agency decisions within a certain time frame. The FCC in December voted 3-2 to repeal most of its net neutrality rules, sparking a backlash that Democrats hope will be a major issue in the midterms.
For a vote to proceed in the House, the petition needs 218 signatures. With Coffman’s signature it will have 177. Even if it were pass the House, it would still need Trump’s signature.
Coffman also introduced legislation on Tuesday to put many of the tenets of the FCC’s former rules into law. They include provisions that ban internet providers from blocking or throttling traffic, or from selling off fast-lanes for speedier access to consumers. It also would give the FCC oversight over disputes over interconnection, or the point at which internet providers connect to traffic to deliver it to their subscribers.
His legislation also attempts to resolve a bitterly fierce debate over how to classify broadband for regulatory purposes, as the focus has been on whether the internet is an information or telecommunications service. It creates an entirely new classification in the Communications Act of 1934.
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“The fight to keep the internet open belongs in Congress, not at the Federal Communications Commission. The American people deserve to know that their elected officials, not unelected bureaucrats, are fighting for their interest,” he said in a statement.
But he said that he also wanted to sign the petition as a way of taking an “all of the above” approach.