Senator Heidi Heitkamp United States Senator for North Dakota

Press Releases

May 16 2018

Heitkamp Helps Pass Bipartisan Senate Resolution to Reinstate Net Neutrality & Restore Internet Freedom

Heitkamp: “In the Senate, North Dakotans’ voices have been heard -- now the House needs to listen to them as well”

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Heidi Heitkamp announced that a bipartisan resolution she helped introduce to reinstate net neutrality rules and restore fair, open, and equal access to the internet passed the U.S. Senate today with her support. It now goes to the House of Representatives for its consideration. Without action from the House, the resolution will not become law.

Heitkamp helped file a petition last week that forced a vote on the bipartisan resolution to review and reverse the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) decision to repeal net neutrality rules. Last month, the FCC officially repealed net neutrality rules that protected fundamental fairness on the internet and prohibited internet service providers from blocking, slowing down, or discriminating against online content.

“Since the FCC made its out of touch decision to dismantle net neutrality rules, I’ve heard from over 5,500 North Dakota families, students, and businesses who worry about their web access and have urged Congress to restore an open internet and a level online playing field,” said Heitkamp. “Today marks a major step in the bipartisan effort to make sure everyone—from the biggest cities to the most isolated, rural areas— is treated fairly and equally when accessing the internet. But now, the House of Representatives needs to step up and pass our bipartisan resolution, so that we can continue to foster healthy competition that benefits consumers and stabilizes rates. Everyone in North Dakota and across the country needs reliable access to the internet to operate their businesses, manage their finances, or supplement their kids’ education— and we are one step closer to guaranteeing that reliable internet access doesn’t just go to the highest bidder. In the Senate, North Dakotans’ voices have been heard. Now the House needs to listen to them as well.”

Today’s resolution passed under Congressional Review Act rules, which allow Congress to overturn regulatory actions at federal agencies—like the FCC—with a simple majority vote in both chambers.

Heitkamp remains a strong supporter of a free internet and greater access to high-speed internet in rural communities. Before the FCC voted to roll back the net neutrality rules in December, Heitkamp expressed her strong concerns about the impact to businesses and consumers – and the need to investigate widespread reports of fraud during the public comment period in a letter to FCC Chairman Ajit Pai.

As a member of the U.S. Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship, Heitkamp has heard concerns from small business owners in North Dakota about the impact of repealing net neutrality protections. Many small businesses use the internet to sell their products, develop their brands, and some develop technology exclusively to be used online. If small businesses have to leverage more financial resources just to compete on an equal playing field as larger more established businesses, it could hurt these small businesses, and lead to less economic activity and less job growth.

And as a founding member of the U.S. Senate Broadband Caucus, Heitkamp has been pushing for bipartisan solutions that would connect every North Dakota family, business, and school to high-speed internet. In 2016, she brought FCC Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel to North Dakota to see firsthand how rural areas are impacted by a lack of access to high-speed internet, and she has discussed the issue in multiple meetings with the president.



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