TECHNOLOGY

House Passes Amendment to Block Funds for Net Neutrality Order

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Thursday, February 17, 2011 | 6:48 p.m.

Updated at 9:22 a.m. on February 18.

The House passed an amendment Thursday that would bar the Federal Communications Commission from using any funding to implement the network-neutrality order it approved in December.

The amendment, approved on a 244-181 vote, was offered by Energy and Commerce Communications and Technology Subcommittee Chairman Greg Walden, R-Ore., to legislation that would fund government agencies for the rest of fiscal year 2011.

Walden and other critics of the FCC's net-neutrality order argue it will stifle innovation and investment in broadband. The order aims to bar broadband providers from discriminating against Internet content, services, or applications.

"If left unchallenged, this claim of authority would allow the FCC to regulate any matter it discussed in the national broadband plan," Walden said.

If the defunding effort fails, Republicans are pursuing a second route to try to block the FCC's open-Internet order. Walden and other Republicans in both the House and the Senate introduced on Wednesday a resolution of disapproval under the Congressional Review Act, which would give lawmakers a limited amount of time to try to block the FCC's net-neutrality rules.

Rep. Ed Markey, D-Mass., a senior Energy and Commerce member, argued that by voting for the amendment, "you give control to the Broadband Barons ... and then you will see an inevitable decline in innovation, in investment, in the private sector, in the new products, the new technology, the new applications, these new devices, which are basically invented by hundreds and thousands of smaller companies in our country."

President Obama, who supports the FCC's net neutrality order, has threatened to veto the spending measure if it cuts government programs too deeply. He was on the West Coast meeting with leaders from Google, Facebook, Twitter, Apple and other technology companies when the vote came in.

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