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House Appropriations Bill Could Temporarily Block Net Neutrality Rule

A House appropriations bill released Tuesday would prohibit the Federal Communications Commission from implementing its 2015 net neutrality order until a pending court case is resolved.

The Financial Services and General Government Appropriations bill for fiscal 2017 would bar the FCC from implementing its 2015 net neutrality rules until a decision is issued in the landmark case, US Telecom Association vs. FCC. The case challenges the agency’s authority to enforce net neutrality regulations.

The House spending bill also would prohibit the FCC from regulating broadband internet service rates and would bar the agency from moving forward on its proposal to open up the set-top box market for third party manufacturers to offer cable content until completion of a study on its potential impact. The FCC passed the proposal on a party-line vote in February.

The appropriations bill would give $315 million to the FCC, a decrease of $69 million from fiscal 2016. The amount for 2017 would be $43 million below the White House request.

“The job of this bill is two-fold: to make wise investments with taxpayer dollars in the programs and agencies that we need to grow our economy and enforce our laws, and to tightly hold the reins on the over-spending and overreach within federal bureaucracies,” House Appropriations Committee Chairman Hal Rogers (R-Ky.) said in a statement about the legislation, which would provide spending for agencies such as the Internal Revenue Service and the Small Business Administration. “This bill makes great strides on all accounts – carefully investing taxpayer dollars in programs that promote opportunity, while keeping these agencies accountable to the American people.”

Another provision would require the agency to make the text of proposed rules and regulations publicly available 21 days before commissioners vote on them. That policy was included in a measure approved by the Senate Commerce Committee in late April.

The House Appropriations Subcommittee on Financial Services and General Government will mark up the spending bill on Wednesday.