Pelosi & Polis Say Net Neutrality Is Important but Miss the Vote

by Mike Wendy on April 18, 2011

My piece in Big Government on some missed Net Neutrality votes – Pelosi: I Support Net Neutrality, but Don’t Make Me Skip a Party to Vote for It

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Late last week, the U.S. House passed a Joint Resolution disapproving of the FCC’s Net Neutrality regulations, which were issued by the agency late last December.  Such a Resolution through the Congressional Review Act (CRA) works to nullify actions by agencies through a streamlined procedure, which keeps amendments off, and requires only simple majorities in each body of Congress, plus the President’s signature, to take effect.

The CRA Resolution has doubtless been a contentious process.  The new Congress, with its conservative majority in the House and a stronger conservative minority in the Senate, has enabled the legislative branch to become more assertive when it comes to agency activities.  The CRA tactic reflects that change in approach.

Not surprisingly, however, its progress has broken primarily across party lines, with Republicans supporting it because they generally feel the FCC lacks the congressional authority to issue its Net Neutrality regulations in the first place; and Democrats moving against it because by and large they believe in the FCC’s regulations, no matter how they’re arrived at.

The vote passed 240-to-179.  Beyond the House vote, its progress in the Senate, and at the President’s desk – if it gets that far – remains uncertain.  Regardless, this has not stopped detractors of the Resolution to use it as yet another public forum to voice support for the FCC’s likely illegal, new regulations.

Of late, two of the louder voices against the Resolution have been former Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi, and Internet millionaire turned Colorado Congressman, Jared Polis.

Both see the FCC’s imposition of Net Neutrality regulations as not only legitimate, but integral to keeping the Internet “open.”

In Pelosi’s view, the government has a moral duty to regulate who can speak on the Internet, ensuring that naughty corporations don’t overrun Free Speech on the valuable, mostly privately-owned and operated medium.

For Polis – who actually led debate last week on the rule that cleared the way for the Resolution to go forward – he believes that the regulations are appropriately balanced, and claims that, among other things, because some Wall Street analysts feel the regulations are helpful, it’s OK to support them.

But a funny thing happened on the way to the Resolution’s vote.  Though we were reminded just how important the issue was to Democracy by the Left, neither Pelosi nor Polis voted on the bill.

I guess some things are actually more important.

We know why Nancy didn’t vote.  She was attending a Progressive-oriented conference / fete in Boston, sponsored by the radical, Soros-backed group, Free Press.

As for Polis, apparently he was just…well, we don’t quite know for certain (after repeated inquiries into the Representative’s press office, no comment was given as to why Polis missed the vote).

For this rising star of the Internet-connected Progressives, his “waffling” behavior may be par for the course.  One might remember that late in 2009, Polis signed an FCC letter with other Democrats, which argued against Net Neutrality regulations.  One week later, however, Polis sat on the other side of the fence, sending out another letter to the Commission, urging the FCC to impose its Net Neutrality mandates instead.

As this PC Mag story from the time states, a spokesperson from Polis’ office said the second letter was designed to clarify his position, noting:

“When he signed on to the letter last week, he did not think that it was in any way going to be construed as against net neutrality. If he did, he wouldn’t have signed on,” the spokeswoman said in a phone interview. “The letter has been sort of picked up … as being against [net neutrality], which is why he’s doing his own letter to sort of clear the record and set the record straight.”

Amazingly, Polis didn’t officially remove his name then from the prior letter because, according to his spokesperson, he still supported parts of it “… like ensuring commitment to competition, and considering and protecting, promoting the growth of broadband.”

Having one’s cake (or, waffle) and eating it, too.  It seems that’s a common theme for some who have expressed strong support for the FCC’s regulations.

For Polis, perhaps he thought he did enough for his Party by simply arguing the rule leading to the vote – and then playing possum when it came time to do his job?  For Speaker Pelosi, perhaps she thought waving the flag at a Soros-backed event was more important than voting, too?

Perhaps also, the Resolution was too blunt of a tactic for this Congress’ Democrats to accept?  Only six Members jumped ship to join with Republicans last week.  Compare that to the last Congress where over 70 Democrats signed the first “Polis letter,” asking the FCC to avoid issuing Net Neutrality regulations.

Who knows?

One thing I do know, however, is if you’re going to demagogue on an “important” matter, and then beat-feet in the other direction when it comes time to actually work – that is, vote – you had better have a good excuse why.

Attending Soros-funded parties, or inexplicably playing hooky, falls well beneath the already low bar set by Congress.  There is no excuse for this grandstanding behavior.

 

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