Rand Paul Leads Charge to Kill Net Neutrality

The Republican presidential candidate is bucking both Silicon Valley and key members of his own party to try to repeal the FCC's rules.

Sen. Rand Paul introduced a bill Wednesday to repeal the Federal Communications Commission's net-neutrality regulations.

The move will do little to endear Paul to Silicon Valley executives, who largely support the new rules, as he tries to raise money from them for his bid for the Republican presidential nomination. And it cuts against his image as the candidate most in touch with young and tech-savvy voters.

Paul's resolution also undermines the strategy of Senate Commerce Committee Chairman John Thune, a South Dakota Republican who is trying to craft a bipartisan compromise on the issue.

But it does put Paul at the forefront of fighting the Internet regulations that are reviled by conservatives.

"This regulation by the FCC is a textbook example of Washington's desire to regulate anything and everything, and will do nothing more than wrap the Internet in red tape," Paul said in a statement. "The Internet has successfully flourished without the heavy hand of government interference. Stated simply, I do not want to see the government regulating the Internet."

So far, the resolution has no other cosponsors, according to Jillian Lane, a spokeswoman for the Kentucky Republican. Representatives for Sens. Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz, who are also running for the Republican nomination, did not respond to requests to comment on the measure. Although Rubio and Cruz also fiercely oppose the FCC's rules, they are both members of the Commerce Committee and may be hesitant to undercut Thune, the panel's chairman.

Paul's resolution is a counterpart to one introduced in the House by Rep. Doug Collins, a Georgia Republican, who was joined by House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte and a dozen other Republicans.

The resolutions seek to take advantage of a fast-track under the Congressional Review Act, a 1996 law passed under then-House Speaker Newt Gingrich. The law allows Congress to bypass procedural hurdles to repeal any regulations within 60 days of the regulations being published.

So that means that Democrats wouldn't be able to filibuster Paul's resolution, and it could pass both chambers with only Republican support.

But it would still face a certain veto from President Obama, which is why Thune and other key Republicans are focused instead on trying to gain Democratic support for legislation to replace the FCC's rules. They hope that Democrats may agree to roll back some of the most onerous elements of the rules in exchange for giving the rules a stronger legal foundation against lawsuits from industry groups.

Passing Paul's resolution and having it vetoed by Obama may only energize the liberal base and drive Democratic lawmakers away from the negotiating table.

"Sen. Thune looks forward to working with Sen. Paul and other colleagues in the effort to find an achievable alternative to misguided Internet regulations put in place by the FCC," Frederick Hill, a spokesman for Thune, said.

The FCC's rules, approved in February and formally published earlier this month, bar Internet providers from blocking websites, selectively slowing down traffic, or creating any special "fast lanes" for sites that pay. The goal is to prevent Internet providers from acting as gatekeepers with control over what Internet users can access online.

Liberal advocacy groups are vowing to defend the rules from Paul's attack.

"Senator Paul has no idea what Net Neutrality is," Matt Wood, the policy director of Free Press, said in a statement. "His opposition to common-sense open Internet principles shows how little he knows or cares about the law and the overwhelming support these rules have from businesses, innovators, and individual Internet users."

Republicans and the telecom and cable companies argue the rules are an unnecessary burden on businesses that will stifle investment in faster networks. They are particularly critical of the FCC's decision to classify Internet providers in the same regulatory regime as telephone companies.