Republicans Halt Efforts To Block FCC Net Neutrality Rules

Earlier this week, Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-Texas) said she planned to propose an amendment to an interior appropriations bill that would ultimately hamstring funding allocated to the FCC used for implementing new regulatory mandates. Senators John Ensign (R-Nev.), Sam Brownback (R-Kan.), David Vitter (R-La.), Jim DeMint (R-S.C.) and John Thune (R-S.D.) co-sponsored the bill.

The Republican move to block FCC funding appeared to be an effort to thwart Genachowski's proposal that promised extended network neutrality regulations by specifically attempting to prevent Internet service providers from blocking certain Web content and services at their discretion. However, the intervention had little chance of passing due to the fact that Republicans hold a minority vote in the Senate.

Republicans told The Washington Post that they were compelled to reconsider the move after receiving a call from Genachowski and his staff, who contended that thwarting the FCC's decision could hurt network operators.

"While we are still generally opposed to net neutrality regulations, we have decided to hold off on the amendment because [FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski] approached us and we are beginning a dialogue," a committee staff member said, according to The Washington Post.

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Initially, Hutchison stated that Republicans were concerned about implementing additional FCC regulations in the throes of an economic downturn, which could serve to impede business and stunt innovation.

Altogether, Genachowski proposed net neutrality regulations that would require carriers to offer broadband services nondiscriminately, while also transparently disclosing network management policies. The FCC also was discussing whether Genachowski's net neutrality proposal also could be applicable to mobile carriers.

The proposal is slated to be presented to the FCC in October during a regularly scheduled notice of proposed rule making (NPRM).