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Monday, June 05, 2006
It's petition-signing season!
The internet has made participatory democracy possible for all... not just the few that can afford to buy into it. While politicians pander, posture and piss away opportunities for open, honest debate in order to win elections, we the people are actually crossing ideological as well as geographical boundaries to have real, meaningful conversations about... well, everything. The internet has come to embody choice. At any given moment, I can choose to rant, organize, look up or window shop just about anything I can think of. And my choices grow exponentially every day.
But, as you know, this administration is *uncomfortable* with the peasant population having too much choice. Take a look at this post from Daily Kos (June 5, 2006) and then visit this web-site: savetheinternet.com.
Net Neutrality Comes to Rules Committee
By Rep. Louise Slaughter (D-N.Y.)
I know many of you have been following the issue of “net neutrality” very closely. The House of Representatives is scheduled this week to take up a bill (H.R. 5252) that would allow telephone companies like Verizon and AT&T to get national cable franchises. A huge point of disagreement in this bill has been the “net neutrality” issue—-whether Verizon, AT&T, and the other huge “telco” and cable companies should have the power to play favorites with the content that travels over their networks.
As the top Democrat on the House Rules Committee, I will keep an eye on all the action as this bill heads to the House floor for debate. The Rules Committee will meet on this bill this Wednesday at 3:30 pm EST...The Rules Committee is the place where the House Republican leadership (acting through Rules Committee Chairman David Dreier) decides how long the House will debate the bill and which amendments (if any) the House will be able to consider and vote on. History shows my colleagues on the other side do not have a great track record when it comes to allowing open and honest debate promoting deliberative democracy.
In other words, the fate of the net neutrality issue is in the hands of this small group of Republican leaders with the power to set the terms of House debate. It will be up to Speaker Hastert and Chairman Dreier to decide whether or not telcos can keep their hands of our internet.
Here’s a little background on this bill and the net neutrality issue.
Commerce Committee Chairman Joe Barton and Democratic Representative Bobby Rush of Illinois introduced a draft version of this bill in early April. This bill contained a section (section 201) with some net neutrality language, but it’s vague and wouldn’t give any of us a real enforceable right to go after a company that has decided to become our Internet baby sitter.
A Subcommittee and then the full Energy & Commerce Committee meeting “marked up” this bill later in April, which means the Committee read through the bill and Committee Members had the opportunity to amend the bill. During both of these markups, Rep. Ed Markey and other Democrats tried to get tougher, enforceable net neutrality standards added to the bill, but lost on both occasions (by a 8-23 vote in the Subcommittee and 22-34 vote in the full Committee).
In May, my distinguished colleague and fellow DailyKos blogger Democratic Ranking Member John Conyers and Judiciary Committee Chairman Jim Sensenbrenner decided to get involved in the net neutrality issue by developing their own bill (H.R. 5417) to toughen the net neutrality rules. Their Committee does not have jurisdiction over federal communications laws, but it does have jurisdiction over federal antitrust laws. Their bill amends federal antitrust law to prohibit the big internet network providers from discriminating against Internet content traveling over their wires. The Conyers-Sensenbrenner bill passed the Judiciary committee by a vote of 20-13. It was a great victory for the net roots.
So now it’s up to the Republican leadership and Chairman Dreier of the Rules Committee to decide what to do with this issue.
The committee’s rule as determined by the Republicans who outnumber the Democrats 9-4, will determine whether we will be able to have a full debate and votes on the net neutrality issue, or whether Speaker Hastert, Chairman Dreier, and the rest of the Republican leadership decide to protect the big phone companies and nervous Republicans from a tough but important debate.
Stay tuned and we will find out whether Democracy once again gets bottled up in the Rules Committee when it comes to allowing a full debate on an issue that will impact all of us in the progressive net roots community.
Thanks so much again making feel welcome in this wonderful community.--Rep. Louise Slaughter
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