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Cramer: House Passes Internet Access Act to Keep Internet Free

Apr 18, 2016


April 15, 2016

Contact: 202-225-2611

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Congressman Kevin Cramer spoke on the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives today as lawmakers considered H.R. 2666, The No Rate Regulation of Broadband Internet Access.  The bill passed the House by a vote of 241 to 173.

Cramer is a co-sponsor of H.R. 2666, and a member of the Energy and Commerce Committee and its Communications and Technology subcommittee, which has primary jurisdiction over the bill.  It prohibits the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) from regulating the rates charged for broadband Internet access service. The only exemptions from this prohibition are the FCC’s existing authority to enforce its Truth-in-Billing rules; the enforcement of the paid prioritization rule from the Open Internet Order; and the administration of the Universal Service Fund. 

As the public use of the Internet has increased over the past decades, the U.S. Government has faced numerous public policy challenges associated with applying a dated communications statute that didn’t consider the Internet. Since the Clinton Administration, the Internet has been excluded from the utility-style common carrier regulations under Title II of the Communications Act of 1934 that were designed to regulate the telephone monopoly.

However, in February 2015, the FCC approved the Open Internet Order which reclassified broadband Internet access as a telecommunications service regulated under Title II.[1] This order, more commonly referred to as “Net Neutrality,” prohibits the blocking or degrading of legal content traveling over the Internet and the paid prioritization of that content. This order is currently under appeal in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit.

In his floor remarks, Cramer referenced his nearly 10 years as a Title II rate regulator on the North Dakota Public Service Commission.

“I know what Title II rate regulation looks like and the Internet is not an appropriate vehicle or medium for this regulation,” Cramer said.  “The Internet is not a monopoly railroad. The Internet is not a monopoly telephone company.  It is not a monopoly electric or gas utility. The Internet is a dynamic, competitive innovator, and even the threat of regulation stifles that innovation.  We do not want that to happen. This legislation simply codifies that which the President of the United States and the Chairman of the Federal Communications Commission promised - to not regulate rates. We do not know if the next Chairman or President will live up to that promise.  This law ensures that promise will be kept by codifying it.”