President Obama has threatened to veto legislation overturning the agency's ability to regulate broadband Internet traffic.
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The House of Representatives has voted to overturn rules passed by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) that prevented Internet service providers from controlling online access.
The House voted 240 to 179 Friday for a Republican-backed resolution reversing the FCC's "net neutrality" rules passed in December. The House Joint Resolution 37, sponsored by Rep. Greg Walden, R-Ore., was approved nearly along party lines, with all but six Democrats and two Republicans voting against the resolution.
The resolution is not expected to pass the Senate, where Democrats are in the majority. President Obama has said he would veto the resolution if it reached his desk. A two-thirds vote by both houses would be needed to override a veto.
The five-member FCC voted 3-2 in December to pass rules that stopped service providers from blocking or retarding online access. The three Democrats on the commission voted for the rules, while the two Republican commissioners voted against it.
FCC chairman Julius Genachowski had hailed the rules as necessary to make the U.S. Internet the "freest and fastest in the world." At the same time, Genachowski and his fellow Democrats tried to find a middle ground with opponents by excluding wireless carriers from the rules. Nevertheless, Republicans have stuck by their arguments that a less-regulated Internet would spur investment and innovation.
Friday, House majority leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., hailed the House vote for trying to thwart the FCC's "harmful and partisan plan to regulate the Internet."
"These regulations give the government unwarranted authority to control broadband networks which ultimately will hinder a thriving industry, harm competition, and stifle innovation," he said in a statement. "Under Republican leadership, the House is focusing on ending anti-growth government regulations."
Democratic House leader Nancy Pelosi of San Francisco acknowledged in a statement that the FCC rules "are not sufficiently clear, consistent, or firm to effectively protect consumers and innovative freedom.
"But that's not reason to eliminate them; it's reason to strengthen them," she said. "Today's resolution takes us in the wrong direction -- revoking basic consumer protections, eliminating competition, and shutting off outlets of innovation."
Besides pitting Democrats against Republicans, the FCC rules have also split the business community. Service providers, such as AT&T, Comcast, and Verizon, opposed the rules, while companies thriving on an open internet, including Amazon, eBay, and Google, supported the regulations.