CMR Twists on Net Neutrality

Dear Group,

McMorris Rodgers is running scared on the issue of Net Neutrality. She should be. She speaks incessantly about repealing regulation. For years she has been unable to say the word “regulation” without appending “job killing” as a prefix. She has reveled in her Party’s use of the Congressional Review Act (CRA) early in the Trump presidency to repeal every regulation of the Obama administration the CRA could reach.

So imagine my surprise when I called McMorris Rodgers office to exhort her to vote for a bill that would reinstate the Net Neutrality rules and the staff person announced that “Congresswoman McMorris Rodgers supports a free and open internet.” What a change of heart, I thought. Well…no.

Then I received an email from “Congresswoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers” on May 16 with the subject line, “I support an open Internet.” Imagine that! She must be going to vote in favor of Net Neutrality, right? Not so fast. In case you didn’t get the email memo from her, the whole argument is also posted on her official “Congresswoman” website. You can read it here.

McMorris Rodgers is on the wrong side of this issue and she must know it. If she were actually in favor of a free and open internet she would already have drafted legislation to insure that it remains open and free. Instead, she claims devotion “free and open,” and breathlessly claims the Net Neutrality rules of the Obama administration were unnecessarily burdensome, wrong-headed, and stifling of investment. I can read those statements, congresswoman, but you offer nothing to back them up, nor do you offer your own legislation to assure the internet remains free and open.

Well, that’s not quite true. She does offer a link: “according to a recent economic analysis” in Forbes magazine she claims as proof that Net Neutrality regulation suppressed expansion of the internet. I tried to visit the link several times. It goes to gibberish. When I search Forbes (a publication of “Center Right” bias) for articles on Net Neutrality I come up only with articles in favor of the Net Neutrality regulations.

It seems she has been sipping the Kool-Aid of her corporate backers. Perhaps she believes her own rhetoric. Perhaps she believes she “support(s) an open internet.” But we ought not to believe her until she either submits or supports a viable bill in the House that actually keeps the internet open and free. Until then, and until we get to examine it, her “support” is nothing more than hot air from the Mistress of Messaging.

Keep to the high ground,

P.S. Background: On May 16 the Senate passed S.J.Res. 52 “disapproving” Ajit Pai’s Federal Election Commission’s ruling dismantling the Obama era Net Neutrality regulations. It now goes to the House, where Republicans need to feel the heat. S.J.Res. 52 passed the Senate without facing a filibuster because those are the rules of the Congressional Review Act (CRA) under which S.J.Res. 52 was passed. It also bypassed the old bullfrog’s, Mitch McConnell’s, stranglehold on what comes to the floor of the Senate. The procedures are a bit complicated. You can read them here on page 14. I think a separate “discharge petition” (i.e. one in the House) would be required for McMorris Rodgers to actually face a vote on the House version of S.J.Res. 52. Without a discharge petition the Republican chair will “sit on” the legislation until it dies, and even if the bill escaped the committee Paul Ryan (Speaker of the House) would refuse to bring it to the floor of the House. Hence, it is an uphill battle in the House. If it did somehow miraculously pass the House it would then go to Trump–and he is likely to veto, but, who knows what he might do on any given day?? Regardless of all that, this is an excellent opportunity to highlight McMorris Rodgers’ and her Republican colleagues’ sellout on this issue. Repealing Net Neutrality is deeply unpopular with voters. Don’t let her get away with the obfuscation she offers in her “I support an open internet.” It is BS.