Net Neutrality Links
I’m adding this link to the Net Neutrality Page.
WASHINGTON, November 21, 2006 Ã¢â¬â Rep. John Dingell greeted the Republican-drafted telecommunications bill, designed to speed the Bell companies’ entry into the television marketplace, with sarcasm and cynicism.
“We have before us, then, a piece of the purest special interest legislation, something which will benefit the few at the expense of the many,” the Michigan Democrat said on June 8, as the House debated the bill.
“This legislation is going to benefit the special interests, particularly the cable and the telephone industry,” said Dingell, the ranking member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee. Dingell lost that battle; the bill passed the House overwhelmingly, 321-101. Even among Democrats, 106 voted for the final bill, with 92 opposed.
But with Democrats taking control of Congress in the midterm elections, the 2006 telecommunications overhaul is almost certain to be killed. Democrats are not likely to cooperate with any Republican-led push for the measure in December’s post-election session. Despite the wide margin in the House, supporters of the telecom bill doubt they can secure enough votes in the Senate for passage this year.
And with Dingell set to reclaim in January the gavel of the Energy and Commerce Committee, which he vigorously ruled from 1981 until 1995, the shape of telecommunications legislation in 2007 could be vastly different.
The likely death of the telecom bill is a major defeat for the Bell companies Ã¢â¬â AT&T Inc., BellSouth, Verizon Communications and Qwest Communications International Ã¢â¬â and their lobbying arm, the U.S. Telecom Association, for whom passage of the bill was the key legislative priority. It would have allowed the Bell companies to string cable television wires without having to get approval by local governments.
But for the Bell companies, the most bitter irony in this turn of fate in the telecom wars is this: John Dingell was once one of their closest friends. He took their campaign contributions and, for more than two decades, promoted their legislative priorities on Capitol Hill. It’s a relationship that soured only within the past year.
On the night of the Bells’ pyrrhic victory in June, Dingell was acerbic as he walked off the House floor, just past 10 p.m. The House Rules Committee had denied the full House a vote on an amendment he authored to restore cities’ control of their rights of way. A reporter asked him why that happened.
“This was decided by a very unprincipled lobby,” Dingell said.
“But you used to be friends with the Bells,” the reporter remarked.
“I have found that I was, but they were not.”
Want to know what you can do?
MA Bell Monopoly Versus the Free Internet Ã¢â¬â Tell the FCC Net Neutrality Is Not Negotiable
–ME “Liz” Strauss
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