U.S. House approves net neutrality bill but legislation faces long odds

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. House of Representatives on Wednesday approved a bill on a 232 to 190 vote to reinstate landmark net neutrality protections adopted in 2015, but the effort faces an uphill battle to become law.

FILE PHOTO: Net neutrality advocates rally in front of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) ahead of Thursday's expected FCC vote repealing so-called net neutrality rules in Washington, U.S., December 13, 2017. REUTERS/Yuri Gripas/File Photo

Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell said Tuesday the bill overturning a Federal Communications Commission December 2017 repeal would be “dead on arrival” in the Senate. The White House said Tuesday aides would recommend President Donald Trump veto the bill, which would reinstate rules barring providers from blocking or slowing internet content or offering paid “fast lanes.”

The reversal of net neutrality rules has been a win for internet service providers (ISPs) such as Comcast Corp, AT&T Inc and Verizon Communications Inc, but was opposed by companies like Facebook Inc, Inc and Alphabet Inc.

Republicans have said the bill would open the door to the FCC imposing rate regulations or adding taxes to internet service similar to levies on cable or phone bills. Democrats say the bill is essential to ensuring the government enforces rules that prohibit improper conduct by internet providers and guarantee Americans access to an open internet.

Just one Republican, Florida Representative Bill Posley, voted with 231 Democrats. No Democrats voted against the measure.

Representative Mike Doyle, a Democrat, said Wednesday that after repealing net neutrality protections the FCC had replaced them with “nothing, nada, zip, crickets. They did nothing. It’s the wild, wild west -- let the ISPs do anything they want and consumers be damned.”

Under FCC chairman Ajit Pai, the commission voted 3-2 to hand ISPs sweeping powers to recast how Americans use the internet, as long as they disclose changes.

In a statement Wednesday, Pai called the House bill a “big-government solution in search of a problem.”

USTelecom, a trade group, said internet providers support net neutrality protections but oppose the 2015 FCC order that reclassified the internet as a utility-style service that handed the FCC sweeping authority to regulate it.

A federal appeals court upheld the 2015 net neutrality rules, while another appellate panel is considering whether the 2017 FCC order is legal. California and some other states have adopted their own net neutrality rules but they are on hold pending the outcome of the challenge to Pai’s order.

Reporting by David Shepardson; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama and Tom Brown