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House Democrats Pass Bill To Make Net Neutrality Great Again

House Democrats passed a bill Wednesday restoring the Federal Communication Commission’s rule prohibiting internet service providers from slowing down internet traffic.

Lawmakers approved a Democrat-backed bill that would restore Obama-era rules requiring AT&T, Verizon and others to treat all traffic equally, though the measure is likely a symbolic gesture. Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky told Reuters Tuesday that the House bill, which passed 232 – 190, is “dead on arrival.”

The Save The Internet Act would repeal FCC Chairman Ajit Pai’s order in 2017, bar the agency from reinstating it, and reinstate the 2015 net neutrality order. Democratic Rep. Mike Doyle of Pennsylvania said Tuesday the bill “puts a cop on the beat to make sure our internet service providers aren’t acting in an unjust, unreasonable or discriminatory way.”

Only one Republican, Rep. Bill Posey of Florida, voted for the bill. Democrats and others activists often characterize ISPs as a driveway connecting a home to the vast network of portals on the internet, while net neutrality, they claim, is the principle preventing providers from charging a high fee for some traffic.

Many people who oppose providing the government more authority over bandwidth say that’s not an apt-description.

Former FCC Chairman Michael Powell, for instance, frequently pushes back against that characterization. “Americans have never known anything but an open Internet,” Powell said during a press conference in 2017, noting that an open internet was a concept woven into how the internet was designed.

Pai returned the previous classification of ISPs as Title I services. More than 20 states launched a joint lawsuit against the FCC shortly thereafter, while California did those states one better: The Golden State passed its own state-level net neutrality law, which is itself being challenged by the federal government. Republicans say dinging the net neutrality rules helped speed up the internet.

Since the repeal of the Obama-era rule took effect in June 2018, internet speed went from 12th to sixth fastest in the world, according to media reports.

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