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Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-Texas) Tries To Insert Net Neutrality ‘Killer Amendment’ to Spending Measure

Phillip Dampier September 23, 2009 Net Neutrality, Public Policy & Gov't 12 Comments
Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-Texas)

Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-Texas)

Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-Texas), who often adopts anti-consumer positions on telecommunications policy, has written a so-called “killer amendment” that would prohibit the Federal Communications Commission from enforcing proposed Net Neutrality rules.

Her amendment, informally proposed Monday as part of a House Interior Appropriations spending measure (H.R. 2996) states:

Purpose: To prohibit the FCC from expending any funds in fiscal year 2010 to implement any Internet neutrality or network management principles, or to promulgate any rules relating to such principles.

Hutchison’s amendment has several Republican co-sponsors: John Ensign (R-Nevada), Sam Brownback (R-Kansas), David Vitter (R-Louisiana), Jim DeMint (R-South Carolina),  and John Thune, (R-South Dakota).

Hutchison released a statement explaining the amendment: “I am deeply concerned by the direction the FCC appears to be heading. We must tread lightly when it comes to new regulations. The case has simply not been made for what amounts to a significant regulatory intervention into a vibrant marketplace. These new regulatory mandates and restrictions could stifle investment incentives.”

Following the Money: Cable's Best Friends in North Carolina Get a Payday

Ensign said Net Neutrality would punish a telecommunications industry at a time when it’s managing through an economic downturn.

“Any industry that is able to thrive should be allowed to do so without meddlesome government interference that could stifle innovation,” he said.

Brownback also has a history opposing the consumer interests of his constituents.  Back in May, he penned a letter to a Stop the Cap! reader in Kansas openly favoring Internet Overcharging schemes.

Public interest groups are calling on the public to express their displeasure with the Republican senators for their opposition to Net Neutrality.

One possible explanation for the sudden, strong interest by Hutchison and other Republicans to oppose Net Neutrality can be found in their respective bank accounts.  Hutchison accepted $67,300 in campaign contributions just from AT&T, her ninth largest contributor.

Combined, AT&T donated more than $400,000 among the six Republicans opposing Net Neutrality, and one of those senators, John Thune, used to work for a DC lobbying firm that was hired by Comcast.

The details were compiled by Sam Gustin, a reporter for DailyFinance:

Over the course of his career, Sen. Sam Brownback, a Kansas Republican, has received $220,914 from “telephone utilities,” including some $83,130 from AT&T, his second-largest donor, in the form of employee and lobbyist donations to his campaign and political-action committees. Sprint Nextel has given Brownback $35,550 over the course of his career.

Two of the co-sponsors of the bill, Sen. David Vitter of Lousiana and Sen. John Ensign of Nevada, who have both seen their reputations tarnished after sex scandals, have been on the receiving end of AT&T’s largesse. AT&T and predecessor BellSouth have donated $82,050 to Vitter’s campaigns and political-action committees. And over the last four years, AT&T has donated some $61,250 to Ensign’s campaign and political-action committees. Verizon-related entities donated $46,600 to Ensign during that period.

During that time, AT&T has donated $63,750 to the campaign and political-action committees of Sen. Jim DeMint, the South Carolina Republican. AT&T is DeMint’s second-largest donor.

Sen. John Thune, the South Dakota Republican, has not received significant donations from the telecom industry since his 2006 defeat of Sen. Tom Daschle, then Senate majority leader Tom Daschle. But from 2003 to 2005, Thune served as a senior policy adviser to the D.C. lobbying firm of Arent, Fox, when its client Comcast, the largest cable company in the U.S., paid some $40,000 in fees.

[Update: Yesterday evening, Washington Post reporter Cecilia Kang reported that the Republicans were, at least for now, backing off on pushing for their amendment:

“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,” said a staff member on the committee.

Hill watchers said the amendment itself represented standard operating procedure when attempting to block regulatory agency policy decisions, but characterized the Hutchison amendment’s chances of passage as remote.  Hutchison and the Republicans are in the minority in the Senate.]

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Jim
Jim
12 years ago

We don’t need more government intervention or regulations. Regulating network neutrality just gives the government a foot in the door to start regulating more and more aspects of the internet. Just because you like the sounds of the first step doesn’t mean you’ll like anything that follows. You don’t think the RIAA, MPAA, BSA, and other anti-consumer groups will have lobbying powers to regulate your internet usage once the FCC has a mandate to regulate? We need competition in broadband instead. Comcast and Time Warner should absolutely be allowed to treat customers like crap. The deserve to lose significant market… Read more »

DM
DM
12 years ago
Reply to  Jim

Jim, What you are describing is a free market. I agree with your sentiment, except you need to realize that a free market does not exist and more likely than not will never exist because of the exact things that you describe. Government regulation and intervention is needed because the current business model is in danger of being corrupted even more than what it currently is. I do agree that the regulations and intervention should not be all encompassing and should only cover what needs to be fixed, which is the unfair competition aspect and customer treatment (i.e. content control)… Read more »

Ron Dafoe
Ron Dafoe
12 years ago
Reply to  Jim

I view the internet as the roads of the digital age – the roads of the information highway. What would life be like today if companies controlled and managed our roads as they see fit – and profit from them. It would be a horrible way to move around.

The same way for the internet. The internet would be a whole lot less usefull if companies had to pay individual ISPs to get on a tier that garantees their traffic on the network.

jr
jr
12 years ago

Hutchinson gets “moderate” billing despite being a total Norquistian

Hmpf
Hmpf
12 years ago

Ron … I don’t recall private enterprise as funding the highways. I think the Eisenhower administration paid for our freeway system.

Ron Dafoe
Ron Dafoe
12 years ago
Reply to  Hmpf

I could be wrong, but from what I have read, both private and government has had their hand in building our data infrastucture.

Tim
Tim
12 years ago

Net Neutrality threatens innovation? Come again. LOL, I have never heard such BS. This woman isn’t worth a squirt of, well, you know what.

Chris
Chris
12 years ago
Reply to  Tim

So says the woman taking kickbacks from the telecom Industry

Alex
Alex
12 years ago

Don’t expect anything from these dixie republicans, Wall Street and mainly northern business interests basically control the party. Most democrats are also bought and paid for unfortunately.

Just follow the money…..

matt
matt
11 years ago

Here is Sen Hutchison’s reply to my specific inquiry regarding net neutrality. It did not address or answer any of the questions I asked and was merely a disappointing pro-industry form letter. Dear Friend: Thank you for contacting me regarding equal and unrestricted access to the Internet. I welcome your thoughts and comments on this issue. The Internet is a valuable tool that facilitates business, education, and recreation for millions of Americans. In 2008, an estimated 220 million Americans had access to the Internet at home or work. As Ranking Member of the Senate Commerce Committee, I am committed to… Read more »

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