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Pelosi: Net Neutrality Preserves Free and Equal Nature of Internet

Thursday, June 08, 2006
Contact: Brendan Daly/Jennifer Crider

Washington, D.C. – House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi spoke on the House floor this afternoon on the Telecommunications Act, supporting Congressman Ed Markey’s (D-MA) amendment on Net Neutrality. Markey’s amendment would ensure that all consumers have equal access to the internet. Below are Pelosi’s remarks:

"Mr. Speaker, last year, House Democrats met with leaders around the country to create our Innovation Agenda – A Commitment to Competitiveness to Keep America #1. One young technology leader told us: ‘If you think you’ve seen what broadband can do, you ain’t seen nothing yet.’

"The objective of this legislation – to create more competition in the broadband marketplace – is laudable. But a key goal of our telecommunications policy must be that everyone in America – from our most rural areas to our most urban – is never more than a keystroke or mouse click away from the jobs and opportunity that broadband both creates and supports. Bridging the digital divide with inclusiveness must be a central value of our broadband efforts.

"Yet today, absent from this bill is that spirit of inclusiveness. Why are we not able to debate amendments that ensure that access is built out to the entire community, and not limited by race or religion? Why are we not able to debate amendments to protect our local governments and enforce our local laws?

"In fact on the previous vote, on the consideration of the resolution that Congresswoman Baldwin put forth on unfunded mandates, it was reported by the Congressional Budget Office that this bill could cost local governments about $350 million in unfunded mandates. It’s interesting to me that the Republicans, who are against unfunded mandates and have that as a principle in their Contract with America, 100 percent of Republicans voted for an unfunded mandate burdening localities in our country to the tune of hundreds of millions of dollars. Not one Republican supported the principle of no unfunded mandates.

"What are Republicans afraid of? Because debate has been limited, and American voices silenced by this restrictive rule, I urge my colleagues to vote against it.

"One issue that we will have the chance to vote on today is the Markey Amendment on Net Neutrality. Mr. Markey has offered an amendment that will continue the innovative tradition of the Internet by enacting Net Neutrality protections that ensure all consumers are able to access any content they wish with the same broadband speed and performance.

"The imposition of additional fees for Internet content providers would unduly burden Web-based small businesses and start-ups. They would also hamper communications by non-commercial users, those using religious speech, promoting civic involvement, and exercising First Amendment freedoms. This is why organizations across the political spectrum support Net Neutrality: from the Gun Owners of America to Common Cause; from the Christian Coalition to the Leadership Conference for Civil Rights and SEIU. America’s most innovative companies, like Google, eBay, YouTube, and Yahoo, also are in favor of the Markey Amendment.

"Without Net Neutrality the current experience that Internet users enjoy today is in jeopardy. Without the Markey Amendment, telecommunications and cable companies will be able to create toll lanes on the information superhighway. This strikes at the heart of the free and equal nature of the Internet.

"Today, we can vote to retain the openness and innovation of the Internet. I urge my colleagues to vote in favor of the future, for the Markey amendment, and against the restrictive rule."

Watch a video clip of Leader Pelosi speaking on Net Neutrality on the House Floor.

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