House Republicans pushing along legislation that would block new Internet regulation ran smack into a wall this week when President Obama threatened to veto the measure if it made it to his desk.
Undeterred, the GOP-led House on Tuesday approved the terms of debate for the measure that would block the so-called "net neutrality" rules approved by the Federal Communications Commission on a party-line vote late last year. The Housed is expected to pass on the measure on Thursday, but it's highly unlikely the Democrat-led Senate will take the measure up and the White House has made its opposition clear.
The bill "would undermine a fundamental part of the nation's Internet and innovation strategy – an enforceable and effective policy for keeping the Internet free and open," the White House Office of Management and Budget said in a statement Monday. "Since the development of the Internet, federal policy has ensured that this medium is kept open and facilitates innovation and investment, protects consumer choice and enables free speech."
"If the president is presented with a resolution of disapproval that would not safeguard the free and open Internet, his senior advisers would recommend that he veto the resolution," the budget office said.
The FCC declined to comment on the legislation.
The rules are intended to prohibit phone and cable companies from abusing their control over broadband connections to discriminate against rival content or services, or play favorites with Web traffic.
But critics say it's a solution in search of a problem, and that the move could open the door for ever-expanding government dominion over the Internet.
"The Internet is open and thriving and creating jobs because of the hands-off approach the government has taken to date," said Rep. Greg Walden, R-Ore., chairman of the Communications and Technology Subcommittee. "The resolution of disapproval will nullify the FCC's launch of a government takeover of the Internet and restore certainty to the marketplace."
The House Energy and Commerce Committee approved the measure last month. Republican members of the committee circulated a letter describing the FCC action as "unprecedented job-destroying rules."
"The Internet has been open and free- and should stay that way," Walden wrote, calling the rules a "government takeover of the Internet."
But Democrats disagree. Rep. Ed Markey, D-Mass has warned that the GOP proposal "would destroy the World Wide Web" and prevent the Internet from being truly "open." He predicted the proposal is headed for "legislative oblivion."