Net Neutrality Wrangling Continues in 2016, But Legislation Unlikely

Net neutrality protests

Senior lawmakers from both parties are weighing alternatives to the Federal Communications Commission’s controversial net neutrality rules. But with campaign season kicking into high gear and a federal appeals court decision coming soon, they likely have a narrow window this year to advance a bipartisan bill.

The lawmakers have said they plan to keep working on a deal without waiting for a court decision on the FCC’s rules. However, the combination of entrenched positions by lawmakers on the wings of each party, and the fact that two Republican presidential candidates also happen to be members of the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee, are likely to make for difficult political jujitsu on the issue in the coming months.

The two GOP presidential contenders, Sens. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) and Ted Cruz (R-Texas) have both lambasted the FCC’s rules, which reclassified broadband Internet services under a more stringent regulatory regime in order to promote policies prohibiting online blocking, throttling and paid prioritization.

Net neutrality will remain a hot-button lobbying issue as tech and telecom companies and public interest groups jockey to help shape “light touch” bipartisan legislation—though whether such a bill will reach the desk of the current president, or a future one, is very much up in the air.

Read more about the net neutrality debate in Bloomberg BNA’s 2016 Outlook.

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