House Judiciary Committee Approves Internet Nondiscrimination Act

(May 4, 2000) The House Judiciary Committee amended and approved a bill to extend the temporary moratorium on new, special, and discriminatory Internet taxes enacted in October 1998. The full House will likely take up the bill next week.

The House Judiciary Committee held a mark up session on HR 3709, the Internet Nondiscrimination Act of 2000, on Thursday morning, May 4. The bill, as amended, would extend the moratorium for five years, and eliminate grandfathering of discriminatory Internet taxes.

Related Story: Cox and Wyden Introduce Internet Non-Discrimination Act, 2/3/00.

The original version of the bill, introduced by Rep. Chris Cox (R-CA) in February, would simply have permanently extended the existing ban. Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-VA) was an original cosponsor of that measure. Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) sponsored the Senate version of the bill.

At the House Judiciary Committee markup, Rep. Goodlatte and Rep. Rick Boucher (D-VA) introduced an amendment in the nature of a substitute that limits the extension to five years.

In addition, the Goodlatte-Boucher amendment eliminates the provision of the Internet Tax Freedom Act which provides "grandfather rights" to ten states which already had taxes inconsistent with the moratorium. These ten states are Connecticut, Montana, New Mexico, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Washington, and Wisconsin.

Rep. Steve Chabot (R-OH) then introduced an amendment to the Goodlatte amendment in the nature of a substitute that would have permanently extended the ban, and still eliminated the grandfathering clause. His amendment failed on a roll call vote of 10 to 23.

Rep. Bill Delahunt (D-MA) then introduced an amendment to the Goodlatte amendment in the nature of a substitute that would have extended the moratorium for only two years. It also would have left the the grandfathering clause in effect. His amendment failed on a roll call vote of 15 to 22.

House Judiciary Committee Roll Call Votes
HR 3709, Internet Nondiscrimination Act of 2000
May 4, 2000
Party State Chabot
Hyde Henry R IL No No Yes
Sensenbrenner James R WI Yes No Yes
McCullom Bill R FL Yes No Yes
Gekas George R PA Yes No Yes
Coble Howard R NC No Yes Yes
Smith Lamar R TX   No Yes
Gallegly Elton R CA Yes No Yes
Canady Charles R FL No No Yes
Goodlatte Bob R VA No No Yes
Chabot Steve R OH Yes No Yes
Barr Bob R GA Yes No Yes
Jenkins Bill R TN No Yes No
Hutchinson Asa R AR No No Yes
Pease Ed R IN Yes No Yes
Cannon Chris R UT No No Yes
Rogan James R CA Yes No Yes
Graham Lindsey R SC Yes No Yes
Bono Mary R CA Yes No Yes
Bachus Spencer R AL No No Yes
Scarborough Joe R FL   No Yes
Vitter David R LA No No Yes
Conyers John D MI No Yes No
Frank Barney D MA No Yes No
Berman Howard D CA No Yes Yes
Boucher Rick D VA No No Yes
Nadler Jerrold D NY No Yes Yes
Scott Robert D VA No Yes No
Watt Mel D NC No Yes No
Lofgren Zoe D CA No No Yes
Lee Sheila D TX No Yes No
Waters Maxine D CA No Yes Yes
Meehan Martin D MA No No Yes
Delahunt William D MA No Yes No
Wexlar Robert D FL   Yes Yes
Rothman Steve D NJ No Yes Yes
Baldwin Tammy D WI No Yes No
Weiner Anthony D NY No Yes Yes
See also, MS Access version (296 KB).

The breakdown of the votes on these two amendments was largely partisan. The Chabot proposal, which would have lengthened the moratorium extension, was supported by a group of 10 Republicans. The Delahunt proposal, which would have shortened the moratorium extension, was supported by 13 Democrats and 2 Republicans. All Republicans voted against the Delahunt amendment except Rep. Howard Coble (R-NC) and Rep. Bill Jenkins (R-TN). All Democrats voted for the amendment except Boucher, Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-CA), and Rep. Marty Meehan (D-MA).

Finally, the committee voted on the Goodlatte amendment in the nature of a substitute. It was approved by a vote of 29 to 8.

The Goodlatte-Boucher amendment represented a compromise with some bipartisan support on the Committee.

Opponents of extending the moratorium complained that the Committee had not held hearings. The Committee's Chairman, Rep. Henry Hyde (R-IL), promised that Rep. George Gekas' (R-PA) Commercial and Administrative Law Subcommittee would hold a hearing on May 17.

Opponents also claimed that the extension was unnecessary, since the current moratorium is still in effect. "I don't understand the rush to judgment," said Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-NY). "The Republican leadership wants to put on a show on the floor next week."

Opponents also stated that they wanted to also address the state and local tax collection, and the nexus issue.