WASHINGTON — On Tuesday, Rep. Mike Coffman announced his intent to sign the discharge petition demanding a vote on a Congressional Review Act measure to undo the Federal Communications Commission’s 2017 Net Neutrality repeal.
Coffman, a Republican representing Colorado’s 6th Congressional District surrounding Denver, should later today become the 177th member of the House of Representatives to sign the discharge petition. The CRA needs 218 signatures to move to the House floor for a vote.
Rep. Mike Doyle (D–Pennsylvania) introduced the discharge petition on May 17, the day after the Senate passed a companion CRA resolution introduced by Sen. Ed Markey (D–Massachusetts) with a bipartisan 52–47 vote.
The resolution of disapproval would roll back FCC Chairman Ajit Pai’s 2017 Net Neutrality repeal and restore internet-user safeguards that prevent broadband providers like AT&T, Comcast and Verizon from blocking, throttling or otherwise discriminating against online content.
At a Tuesday morning press conference, Coffman is expected to announce his support for the discharge petition. He also plans to introduce a new bill intended to codify some of the same protections that the CRA restores.
Rep. Coffman’s announcement of support for the CRA follows weeks of grassroots activism both online and in Coffman’s Colorado district. Free Press Action Fund worked with Demand Progress and Fight for the Future to mobilize individuals and small businesses in Coffman’s district, while dozens of additional allied organizations, trade groups and companies joined the effort both inside the Beltway and in Colorado.
Free Press Action Fund Government Relations Director Sandra Fulton made the following statement:
“Net Neutrality has never been a partisan issue except in a few buildings in Washington, D.C. The protections established under the Obama-era FCC in 2015 have broad bipartisan support from voters across the country. Eighty-two percent of Republicans opposed the Republican FCC’s decision to repeal the rules. But even in light of that overwhelming popularity, it’s still a brave act for Republican members like Representative Coffman to cross party lines and do the right thing.
“Today, Representative Coffman will make bipartisan support for communications rights a reality in Congress. He has shown he’s listening to what internet users want and need by joining hundreds of colleagues in the House who have already signed the discharge petition, as well as the senators — Republicans, independents and Democrats alike — who voted in May to restore these strong safeguards.
“By announcing that he’d sign the discharge petition and joining the push to pass the CRA this year, Representative Coffman is standing up for the strong Net Neutrality rules that his constituents demand. He stands with his voters and internet users everywhere. And he stands against incessant spin and lies from an army of phone and cable lobbyists who will do anything to stop Net Neutrality from being restored.
“One advance report on today’s speech suggested that Coffman’s new legislation is somehow stronger than the 2015 rules. That is highly unlikely. We haven’t seen the full text of the bill, but the FCC’s 2015 Title II Net Neutrality rules contain clear and strong nondiscrimination language — and they give the agency power to enforce these protections along with a wide range of additional broadband policies promoting universal and affordable service and protecting people’s online privacy rights. Title II is the right law for internet users, and it proved wildly successful for both broadband investment and edge investment before the Pai FCC’s wrongheaded reversal of that framework.
“And no matter how weak or strong Coffman’s new bill is on paper, it has no chance of passing in this Congress. The CRA is the best and only chance legislators have to restore these crucial rights this year.
“Net Neutrality rules protect everyone’s right to a free and open internet. They protect free speech and choice from corporate ISPs, ensuring that people can tell their own stories, take advantage of economic opportunities, further their education and fight for racial justice without fear of discrimination. Younger voters, veterans, entrepreneurs and business owners have all consistently voiced their support for restoring real Net Neutrality rules.
“Millions of people from across the political spectrum want these essential rules reinstated. They will keep calling on their lawmakers to pass the CRA and defend the rights of internet users. Thanks to Representative Coffman, we’re one step closer to a vote, and could see remaining Democratic representatives and other Republicans signing on to the discharge petition in the days to come.”