A letter signed by 47 Democrats in the House of Representatives asking for the chamber’s leadership’s support to form a net neutrality working group was made public late Thursday by Republicans on the House Energy and Commerce Committee. The letter has been criticized by numerous net neutrality groups as being “extremely troubling” and an effort to undermine the Save the Internet Act.
An early draft of the letter was obtained by internet rights group Fight for the Future. The Daily Dot reported on the existence of the draft letter earlier this week, and the published letter has identical language.
The lawmakers who signed it say they feel the Save the Internet Act is “unlikely” to pass in the Senate, and want a working group created like the one Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) and Sen. Roger Wicker (R-Miss.) announced in the Senate. The Save the Internet Act passed in the House last month.
In a letter signed by more than 30 net neutrality advocacy groups, they argue that the working group proposal—and the Wicker-Sinema effort—is “not a path to viable legislation, but rather a means to undermine the bill the House just passed, and the strong but flexible net neutrality framework it restores.”
On Thursday evening, Republicans on the Energy and Commerce Committee published the letter, commending the request from some Democrats for support from House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, and Majority Whip James Clyburn to form a net neutrality working group in the chamber.
The Republicans also say the effort was led by Rep. Josh Gottheimer (D-N.J.) and Rep. Scott Peters (D-Calif.).
The Daily Dot has reached out to Democratic leadership, Gottheimer, and Peters. We’ll update this story if we hear back.
“We have long said that a permanent, bipartisan legislative solution produced in good faith with our Democratic colleagues is the only way to protect consumers, innovation, and an open internet. We welcome our colleagues’ engagement, and hope that a bipartisan working group can be a successful incubator for true bipartisan net neutrality legislation,” Rep. Greg Walden (R-Ore.), Rep. Bob Latta (R-Ohio), and Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-Wash.) said in a joint statement accompanying the published letter.
Meanwhile, net neutrality advocacy groups have pushed back. Free Action President CEO Craig Aaron said in a statement that House leadership should look past the “charade” of the working group letter.
“The House leadership and all members of Congress must see this awful charade for what it really is: not a bid for bipartisanship but a cowardly and corrupt capitulation to AT&T, Comcast and Verizon from lawmakers who should know better,” Aaron said. “Any elected representative who wants to do right by their constituents must stop waffling on net neutrality, distance themselves from this letter and abandon plans for an industry-friendly working group that harms internet users.”
The Democrats who signed the letter include:
- Rep. Josh Gottheimer (D-N.J.)
- Rep. Scott Peters (D-Calif.)
- Rep. Ami Bera (D-Calif.)
- Rep. Anthony Brown (D-Md.)
- Rep. Salud Carbajal (D-Calif.)
- Rep. Anthony Brindisi (D-N.Y.)
- Rep. Derek Kilmer (D-Wash.)
- Rep. Tony Cardenas (D-Calif.)
- Rep. Gil Cisneros (D-Calif.)
- Rep. J. Luis Correa (D-Calif.)
- Rep. Henry Ceullar (D-Tx.)
- Rep. Jim Costa (D-Calif.)
- Rep. Abby Finkenauer (D-Iowa)
- Rep. Joe Cunningham (D-S.C.)
- Rep. Bill Foster (D-Ill.)
- Rep. Lizzie Fletcher (D-Tx.)
- Rep. Vicente Gonzalez (D-Tx.)
- Rep. Alcee Hastings (D-Fla.)
- Rep. Kendra Horn (D-Okla.)
- Rep. Steven Horsford (D-Nev.)
- Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-Tx.)
- Rep. Henry Johnson Jr. (D-Ga.)
- Rep. Susie Lee (D-Nev.)
- Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick (D-Ariz.)
- Rep. Ben McAdams (D-Utah)
- Rep. Daniel Lipinski (D-Ill.)
- Rep. Tom O’Halleran (D-Ariz.)
- Rep. Stephanie Murphy (D-Fla.)
- Rep. Kathleen Rice (D-N.Y.)
- Rep. Ed Perlmutter (D-Colo.)
- Rep. Dutch Ruppersberger (D-Md.)
- Rep. Harley Rouda (D-Calif.)
- Rep. Veronica Escobar (D-Tx.)
- Rep. Kurt Scharader (D-Ore.)
- Rep. David Scott (D-Ga.)
- Rep. Mikie Sherrill (D-N.J.)
- Rep. Sylvia Garcia (D-Tx.)
- Rep. Dina Titus (D-Nev.)
- Rep. Norma Torres (D-Calif.)
- Rep. Xochitl Torres Small (D-N.M.)
- Rep. Jeff Van Drew (D-N.J.)
- Rep. Filemon Vela (D-Tx.)
- Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Fla.)
- Rep. Katie Hill (D-Calif.)
- Rep. Josh Harder (D-Calif.)
- Rep. TJ Cox (D-Calif.)
- Rep. Pete Aguilar (D-Calif.)
You can read all of the letter from some House Democrats here.
This post has been updated.