Senator Cantwell Officially Files Petition to Force Vote on Net Neutrality
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, after officially filing a discharge petition to force a vote on net neutrality, U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA) spoke to reporters about the importance of preserving net neutrality protections for a free and open internet.
Below are her remarks, which can also be viewed here:
Well I want to thank Senator Markey and all my colleagues to be here to fight on behalf of an innovation economy. This clearly is a fight between Democrats and Republicans. Democrats, who want to preserve that innovation economy, and Republicans, who are on the side of big cable, who are charging exorbitant rates and, without this effort, they will charge more and slow down that innovation. That’s why we’re here, with this CRA, to say let’s stop the action that Chairman Pai took on behalf of big cable, and instead fight for the innovation and the juggernaut economy that we know that innovation is.
Right now, the innovation economy and the internet economy is seven percent of GDP. This is so important to me, because in the state of Washington, it’s 13 percent of our economy. So the stakes are high with over 13,000 internet companies and a quarter of a million jobs. So, we want an open internet, and one that does not have access to barriers.
The CRA is the best tool we have to make sure that consumers, and the growth of the internet economy of one trillion dollars, continues to grow. We can’t let a few big cable companies be the ones to determine who wins and loses in the content wars. Over 4,000 tech startups were founded in 2015, and we added 142,000 jobs in tech in 2016. Is that going to slow down?
Just three big cable companies control access to the internet for 70 percent of Americans, and over the past decade, the prices that these Americans pay for these services have risen almost twice as fast as inflation. This is giving them a license to charge more.
So what will happen to those innovation solutions? Whether we’re talking about telemedicine, distance learning, cybersecurity, reforestation, e-commerce – what will happen if you let Comcast, NBC allow an MSNBC website to go faster than Politico? Politico is based on getting access to news and getting it in a timely fashion – are we going to let a cable company who is vertically integrated artificially slow down other sites unless you pay a fee to get access? This is what this debate is all about. It is about access to information without being slowed down, without being throttled, and without artificially putting your thumb on the scale in favor of one over the other.
That is why we’re fighting today. That’s why putting this CRA on the table and fighting the FCC’s action is something that everyone needs to win in. Senator Markey said that we had 160 House members – we need to get to 218. We hope that today the House will see the great action taken by Senate Democrats and take the fight to Republicans who are ignoring – ignoring – the internet economy and innovation, and siding with big cable that is already gouging consumers.
Senator Cantwell and her colleagues filed a discharge petition today that would force a vote on a Congressional Review Act (CRA) resolution restoring the net neutrality protections established by the 2015 Open Internet Order. Last December, the FCC voted to repeal these rules, which prohibited internet service providers from blocking, slowing down, or discriminating against content online. Repealing net neutrality could lead to higher prices for consumers, slower internet traffic, and even websites being blocked all together. A recent poll showed that 83 percent of Americans do not approve of the FCC action to repeal net neutrality rules, including 75 percent of Republicans.
A Congressional Review Act resolution allows Congress to overturn regulatory actions taken by federal agencies with a simple majority vote in both chambers of Congress and the signature of the president. In the Senate, a CRA resolution must be submitted and voted on within 60 legislative working days after the agency officially transmits the rule to Congress – the deadline for a vote on the net neutrality CRA resolution is June 12.
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