by Matt Stoller, Wed May 31, 2006 at 08:44:43 AM EDT
Last week was a big week for the internet freedom folks. We won a vote in the Judiciary Committee for the Sensenbrenner-Conyers Bill (HR5417) to preserve internet freedom. For those who haven't been following, the basic gist of the issue is that the government has always set basic rules for the wires that carry internet traffic. These rules don't let the telcos that manage those wires block anyone's traffic, and we want to keep it that way. The telcos want to be able to block traffic and web sites so they can favor some services over others, so they want to strip the FCC of the authority they have to enforce these rules. The business and political case is clear. Senior telco execs have publicly discussed slowing down Google's web site if Yahoo pays them, for instance. There are political implications as well; a Canadian ISP have blocked the web site of a union striking against them. Telcos have always hated the internet, and now that they see the opportunity to put up tollbooths everywhere and make the internet work as clunkily as cell phone service, they are trying to seize it through their massive political leverage.
Ok, so we won on the vote last week with nearly all Democrats voting for the bill and 5 Repulicans coming to our side. HR5417 now goes to the Rules Committee, which determines when and whether bills go to the floor. The Rules Committee is a small and corrupt body controlled by Republican leadership, and rarely allows bill to the floor that the Republican leaders don't like. And Hastert is whipping hard against internet freedom, and the Rules Committee is more his turf than it is Sensenbrenner's.
The danger here is that the conflict between the Rules Committee and the Judiciary Committee produces a meaningless substitute bill, and some squishy Dem like Bill Delahunt sells us out and cosponsors it (Weiner is another possibility since he had reservations about the bill). That bill can then go to the floor and House Democrats will then vote for it while whimpering that it's the only pro-net neutrality legislation they had the opportunity to vote for.
This is where we are now. Of course, we never expected to be able to put up a fight in the House period, so this is exceptional. But be aware that we could be sold out on this.
The telcos are desperate to get something through Congress this year, because they are watching the growing list of candidates who are running on this issue. They never expected this to be a voting issue. I've created a special web page for 'internet freedom' candidates, and I've added Linda Stender in New Jersey's seventh Congressional district.
Meanwhile, keep an eye on Al Wynn in Maryland's 4th district, and his primary challenger Donna Edwards. Wynn is a seriously bad guy, and Edwards is very well-respected.
by Matt Stoller, Fri May 26, 2006 at 07:08:15 AM EDT
Hands off the Internet started a stupid blog without comments. The whole approach to honest discourse online has been a series of sneers, and they found out that doesn't work yesterday when every Democrat went against them. Hands Off though is only one of several groups. Telco money is everywhere; every Congressmen is getting multiple visits from telco lobbyists on the issue, and the telcos are spending on the order of $1 million a week on this fight.
And McCurry isn't a hard core legislative guy, he's a PR person. There are other lobbyists doing the hard core wrangling of legislators. For instance, I learned from several sources and a press release on a web site that our old friend Steve Elmendorf is lobbying for the telcos. It didn't matter of course; the Democrats were whipped into shape by Conyers, Pelosi, and the internet.
This is a sea change in Democratic culture. The lobbyist driven machinery is being gummed up on the Democratic side. I'm not going to say that the blogs and the internet are totally responsible for this, since corporate funds being cut off to Democrats has a lot to do with the shift.
I do think that lobbying for illiberal policies is going to get harder for Clinton Kewl Kid operatives.
by Matt Stoller, Thu May 25, 2006 at 09:37:11 AM EDT
Here's the roll call vote for the House Judiciary Committee. This is an amazing turnaround, from a bipartisan stance against net neutrality, to a bipartisan stance for net neutrality. The battle isn't over, but enjoy this victory.
Conyers - yes
Berman - yes
Boucher - yes
Nadler - yes
Scott - yes
Watt - not voting
Lofgren - yes
Jackson-Lee - yes
Waters - yes
Meehan - not voting
Delahunt - present
Wexler - yes
Weiner - yes
Schiff - yes
Sanchez, Linda - yes
Van Hollen - yes
Wasserman Schultz - yes
Sensenbrenner - yes
Hyde - didn't vote
Coble - no
Smith - no
Gallegly - no
Goodlate - yes
Chabot - no
Lungren - yes
Jenkins - yes
Cannon - yes
Bachus - no
Inglis - yes
Hostetler - no
Green - no
Keller - no
Flake - not voting
Pence - not voting
Forbes - no
King - no
Feeney - no
Frank - no
Gohmert - not voting
by Matt Stoller, Thu May 25, 2006 at 07:12:50 AM EDT
20-13-1 on the Judiciary Committee. All Democrats voted the right way except Delahunt, who voted 'present'. Congrats everyone!
The vote count is looking better than it did yesterday for House Judiciary Democrats. Here's the most recent list I have. This is for support of the Sensenbrenner-Conyers bill HR 5417 supporting net neutrality. If one of these is your representatives, especially the leaners, please pick up the phone. This is crunch time.
Wasserman Schultz YES
LEANING YES VOTES
Bobby Scott Leaning Yes (202) 225-8351
Maxine Waters Leaning Yes (202) 225-2201
Marty Meehan Leaning Yes (202) 225-3411
Anthony Weiner Leaning Yes (202) 225-6616
Adam Schiff Leaning Yes (202) 225-4176
Howard Berman Undecided 202-225-4695
Mel Watt Undecided (202) 225-1510
Sheila Jackson-Lee Undecided (202) 225-3816
Chris Van Hollen Undecided (202) 225-5341
LEANING NO VOTE
William Delahunt Leaning No (202) 225-3111
by Matt Stoller, Wed May 24, 2006 at 03:48:21 PM EDT
Ok, so the House Judiciary is going to mark up Sensenbrenner's great net neutrality bill tomorrow. Many of the Democrats have been pressured by the Communications Worker's of America to vote down the net neutrality provisions. The CWA came out publicly against net neutrality just now because the telecom companies have convinced them that this is vital to their industry. The CWA has made a grievous error here, with SEIU taking the other side.
I just learned that these are the members to contact on the Sensenbrenner bill. Here's what to say. Urge them to support the bipartisan Sensenbrenner-Conyers Net Neutrality bill (HR 5417) in the Judiciary Committee on Thursday -- and to support it without amendment. Saying without amendment is key.Howard Berman (D-Calif. 28th)Phone: 202-225-4695Fax: 202-225-3196William Delahunt (D-Mass. 10th)Phone: (202) 225-3111Fax: (202) 225-5658Sheila Jackson-Lee (D-Texas 18th)(202) 225-3816 phone(202) 225-3317 FaxMarty Meehan (D-Mass. 5th)Phone: (202) 225-3411Fax: (202) 226-0771Bobby Scott (D-Va. 3rd)Phone: (202) 225-8351Fax: (202) 225-8354Chris Van Hollen (D-Md. 8th)Phone: (202) 225-5341Fax: (202) 225-0375Maxine Waters (D-Calif. 35th)Phone: (202) 225-2201Fax: (202) 225-7854Mel Watt (D-N.C. 12th)Tel. (202) 225-1510Fax (202) 225-1512Anthony Weiner (D-N.Y. 9th)Phone: (202) 225-6616Fax: (202) 226-7253Robert Wexler (D-Fla. 19th)phone: (202) 225-3001fax: (202) 225-5974