Amendment by Amendment Summary of Full Committee Mark Up of COPE Act
April 26, 2006. The House Commerce Committee (HCC) amended and approved the "Communications Opportunity, Promotion, and Enhancement Act of 2006", or COPE Act. This bill has not yet been introduced in the House. Hence, there is no bill number. There is also no bill sponsor. However, Rep. Joe Barton (R-TX) identifies himself as the sponsor, and Rep. Bobby Rush (D-IL) as a cosponsor.
The HCC's Subcommittee on Telecommunications and the Internet amended and approved the COPE Act on April 5, 2006. See, stories titled "House Subcommittee Approves COPE Act", "House Subcommittee Rejects Network Neutrality Amendment", and "Amendment by Amendment Summary of Subcommittee Mark Up of COPE Act" in TLJ Daily E-Mail Alert No. 1,344, April 6, 2006.
See also, March 27, 2006, committee print [34 pages in PDF]. The Subcommittee approved numerous amendments on April 5, 2006, which were incorporated into the April 26, 2006, committee print [50 pages in PDF]. This was the base bill for the April 26, 2006, mark up by the full Committee.
The Committee proceeded Title by Title. It first considered amendments to Title I of the bill, which establishes a national cable franchise. Amendments 1 through 18 pertained to Title I.
The Committee then considered one amendment (19) to Title II, which provides that the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is authorized to enforce its August 2005 policy statement [3 pages in PDF] regarding network neutrality through case by case adjudicatory proceedings.
The Committee then considered amendments (20 through 23) to Title III, which extends the E-911 regulatory regime, and other legacy regulatory regimes, to voice over internet protocol (VOIP) service. See, Title III, as amended.
The Committee then considered amendments (24 and 25) to Title IV, which provides that state and local entities may provide any telecommunications, information or cable service. See, Title IV, as amended.
The Committee then considered amendments (26 through 29) to Title V, which pertains to broadband as a stand alone service. The Committee then considered further amendments to the bill (30 through 33). See, Title V, as amended, and the new Title VI, titled "Seamless Mobility".
For quick reference, there are red check marks adjacent to items that were approved by the Committee.
1. Barton: Manager's Amendment. The Committee approved by voiced vote a manager's amendment [11 pages in PDF] offered by Rep. Barton. It contains 26 separate changes to the base bill.
2. Solis: Build Out Mandate. The Committee rejected on a roll call vote of 22 to 33 an amendment [4 pages in PDF] offered by Rep. Hilda Solis (D-CA), Rep. John Dingell (D-MI) and Rep. Ed Markey (D-MA) that would have imposed a build out requirement on cable operators.
The amendment provided that "Beginning on the date that is 5 years after the effective date of a cable operatorís national franchise under this section for a franchise area and every 3 years thereafter, if in the portion of the franchise area where the cable operator is offering cable service at least 15 percent of the households subscribe to such service, the franchising authority in the franchise area may require the cable operator to increase by 20 percent the households in the franchise area to which the cable operator offers cable service by the beginning of the next 3-year interval, until the cable operator is capable of providing cable service to all households in the franchise area."
Rep. Charles Gonzales (D-TX) (at right), who voted against this amendment, and for final approval, argued that "what we are really arguing is the digital divide". He stated at this time, and again many times throughout the mark up, that the companies providing service are not the problem. Rather, they are the solution. He said that "the remedy is not to discourage new entrants".
Rep. Barton argued that this amendment goes against the heart of the bill. He said that "we want to go to a market based model", and that service providers in a competitive market will have an incentive to maximize their market share.
3. Stearns: Truth in PEG and iNet Billing. The Committee approved by voice vote an amendment [1 page in PDF] offered by Rep. Cliff Stearns (R-FL) which allows service providers to disclose on their bills to customers information about public, education and government (PEG) access and iNet funding.
4. Waxman: Income Discrimination. The Committee rejected on a roll call vote of 22-29 an amendment [2 pages in PDF] offered by Rep. Henry Waxman (D-CA) that would have prohibited discrimination by cable operators on the basis of income.
It provided, in part, that "A cable operator with a national franchise under this section shall not deny or offer inferior access to its cable service to any group of potential or current residential cable service subscribers in a manner that has the purpose or effect of discriminating against that group on the basis of the income of that group."
Rep. Fred Upton (R-MI) argued against the amendment on the grounds that the base bill already contains anti-discrimination language.
5. Solis: Discrimination. The Committee rejected on a roll call vote of 23 to 29 an amendment [1 page in PDF] offered by Rep. Solis that contained a broader prohibition of discrimination by cable operators.
It would have prevented discrimination "on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, sex, or income".
Rep. Solis argued that "the underlying text fails to prevent discrimination. Rather than protecting local governments and ensuring their residents receive equitable treatment, this legislation would allow new entrants to deny services to poor, underserved or minority communities altogether."
Rep. Barton argued that there are already existing laws of general applicability against discrimination on the basis of race, religion, national origin, and other grounds.
Rep. Barton also argued at this time, and at many times throughout the hearing, that the House Commerce Committee should not include any language in the bill that might give the House Judiciary Committee (HJC) a claim to jurisdiction over the bill. He said that civil rights language might have that consequence.
He commented about the HJC, "they could do all kinds of mischief to it".
6. Dingell: Local Authority. The Committee rejected on a roll call vote of 23 to 30 an amendment [3 pages in PDF] offered by Rep. John Dingell (D-MI) that would have increased the powers of local franchising authorities.
7. Doyle: Local Enforcement Authority. The Committee rejected on a roll call vote of 23 to 27 an amendment [7 pages in PDF] offered by Rep. Mike Doyle (D-PA) that would have given local authorities more enforcement authority.
8. Baldwin: Redlining. The Committee rejected on a roll call vote of 20 to 28 an amendment [5 pages in PDF] offered by Rep. Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) regarding redlining.
Rep. Barton argued that Democrats were offering variations on the same proposal over and over again with the Solis, Waxman, Solis, Dingell, Doyle, and Baldwin amendments. He said that the Baldwin amendment is "a little bit different bite at the apple, but the same apple that we have been biting at all morning."
He also argued that the base bill already contains anti-redlining provisions.
9. Wynn: Consumer Protection. The Committee approved by voice vote an amendment [3 pages in PDF] offered by Rep. Al Wynn (D-MD) regarding consumer protection.
The base bill requires the filing of a certification to obtain a national franchise. The Wynn amendment requires that applicants include in their certifications declarations that "the operator will comply with all Commission consumer protection and customer service rules under section 632(b) and subsection (g) of this section" and "the operator agrees that such standards may be enforced by the Commission or by the franchising authority in accordance with subsection (g) of this section."
The base bill requires the FCC to write rules for the holders of national cable franchises regarding consumer protection and customer service. The Wynn amendment adds that "Such rules shall, in addition to the requirements of section 632(b), address with specificity no less than the following consumer protection and customer service issues: (i) Billing, billing disputes, and discontinuation of service, including when and how any late fees may be assessed (but not the amount of such fees). (ii) Loss of service or service quality. (iii) Changes in channel lineups or other cable services and features. (iv) Availability of parental control options." (Parentheses in original.)
The Wynn amendment adds also that "Such rules shall require forfeitures penalties or customer rebates, or both, as determined by the Commission, that may be imposed for violations of such Commission rules in a franchise area, and shall provide for increased forfeiture penalties or customer rebates, or both, for repeated violations of the standards in such rules", and that such rules "shall also establish procedures by which any forfeiture penalty assessed by the Commission under this subsection shall be paid by the cable operator directly to the franchising authority."
10. Eshoo: Definition of Cable Service. Rep. Anna Eshoo (D-CA) (at right) offered an amendment [1 page in PDF] regarding the definition of cable service. However, she withdrew it.
11. Green: ROW Declaration. The Committee approved by voice vote an amendment [1 pages in PDF] offered by Rep. Gene Green (D-TX) that requires that applicants for a national franchise include in their certifications "a declaration by the cable operator that the operator will comply with the rights-of way requirements of the franchising authority under subsection (f)."
12. Green: Income Based Discrimination. The Committee approved by voice vote a second amendment offered by Rep. Green pertaining to income basis discrimination.
The base bill provides that "If the Commission determines (in response to a complaint under this paragraph or on its own initiative) that a cable operator has denied access to its cable service to a group of potential residential cable service subscribers because of the income of that group, the Commission shall ensure that the cable operator extends access to that group." (Parentheses in original.)
This Green amendment adds to the end of this paragraph the phrase "within a reasonable period of time".
(Editor's Note: this amendment was not in the web site of the House Commerce Committee as of publication of this article. Hence, from this amendment on, the numbering of amendments in the HCC web site differs from TLJ's numbering.)
13. Schakowsky: Consumer Protection. Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-IL) offered an amendment [1 page in PDF] regarding state authority to write consumer protection laws.
This amendment provided that "No State or local law (including any regulation) shall impose on a cable operator franchised under this section any consumer protection or customer service requirement unless such requirement is either -- (A) of general applicability; or (B) not inconsistent with an express national consumer protection or customer service rule issued by the Commission."
However, she then withdrew it.
14. Allen: Annual FCC Reports. The Committee approved by voice vote an amendment [1 page in PDF] offered by Rep. Tom Allen (D-ME) that amends the base bill's requirement that the FCC prepare annual reports on the deployment of cable service. The amendment requires that the FCC also include "a comparison with the progress of deployment of broadband services not defined as cable services within such telephone service area".
15. Allen: Annual FCC Reports. The Committee approved by voice vote a second amendment offered by Rep. Allen regarding the annual reports to be prepared by the FCC.
It requires the FCC to describe in detail "the proportion of rural households to urban households, as defined by the Bureau of the Census, in those franchise areas or portions of franchise areas where cable service is being offered, and the proportion of rural households to urban households in those franchise areas or portions of franchise areas where cable service is not being offered, including a State-by-State breakdown of such data and a comparison with the overall ratio of rural and urban households in each State".
(Editor's Note: this amendment was not in the web site of the House Commerce Committee as of publication of this article.)
16. Inslee: State Enforcement of Consumer Protection Standards. Rep. Jay Inslee (D-WA) offered an amendment [2 pages in PDF] regarding state enforcement of consumer protection and customer service standards. However, he withdrew it.
17. Pickering: Eligibility for National Franchises. The Committee approved by voice vote an amendment [pages in PDF] offered by Rep. Chip Pickering (R-MS) and Rep. Frank Pallone (D-NJ). It contains two provisions.
First, it provides that "A national franchise under this section shall be effective with respect to any franchise area 30 days after the date of the filing of a completed certification under subsection (a)(2)(A) or (B) that applies to such franchise area."
Second, it provides that "A person or group that is providing cable service under section 621 or any other law in a franchise area on the date of enactment of this section may provide cable service pursuant to a national franchise under this section in such franchise area if, on the date that the national franchise becomes effective, another person or group is providing cable service under this section, section 621, or any other law in such franchise area."
18. Baldwin: Increased Funding for PEG Access. The Committee rejected an amendment [3 pages in PDF] offered by Rep. Baldwin and Rep. Heather Wilson (R-NM) regarding funding for public, educational and government (PEG) access.
Barton argued against the amendment. He stated that the bill provides for PEG funding of 1% of gross revenues. He said that this amendment would require new entrants to pay the same amount per subscriber as incumbents, and would therefore discourage new entrants.
The vote was 19 to 20. However, the division was not as close as the vote total suggests. This amendment was taken up just after the Committee took a recess for a series of floor votes. 11 Republicans and several Democrats had not yet returned to the Committee room.
This completed the Committee's consideration of amendments to Title I of the bill. It then proceeded to Title II, regarding network neutrality.
19. Markey: Network Neutrality. The Committee rejected an amendment [5 pages in PDF] offered by Rep. Ed Markey (D-MA), Rep. Rick Boucher (D-VA), Rep. Anna Eshoo (D-CA), and Rep. Jay Inslee (D-WA) that would have imposed a broader network neutrality mandate. It failed on a roll call vote of 22-34.
The amendment provided that each broadband network provider has five duties:
First, "not to block, impair, degrade, discriminate against, or interfere with the ability of any person to use a broadband connection to access, use, send, receive, or offer lawful content, applications, or services over the Internet".
Second, "to operate its broadband network in a nondiscriminatory manner so that any person can offer or provide content, applications, and services through, or over, such broadband network with equivalent or better capability than the provider extends to itself or affiliated parties, and without the imposition of a charge for such nondiscriminatory network operation".
Third, "if the provider prioritizes or offers enhanced quality of service to data of a particular type, to prioritize or offer enhanced quality of service to all data of that type (regardless of the origin of such data) without imposing a surcharge or other consideration for such prioritization or enhanced quality of service". (Parentheses in original.)
Fourth, "to enable a user to attach and use any device to the operatorís network that does not physically damage, make unauthorized use of, or materially degrade other usersí utilization of, the network".
Fifth, "to clearly and conspicuously disclose to users, in plain language, accurate information about the speed, nature, and limitations of their broadband connection."
The amendment added that "Nothing in this section shall prevent a broadband network provider from taking reasonable and nondiscriminatory measures to -- (1) manage the functioning of its network to protect the security of such network and broadband network services, provided that such management does not depend upon the affiliation with the broadband network provider of the content, applications, or services on the network; (2) offer varied service plans to users at defined levels of bandwidth and different prices; (3) offer consumer protection services (including services for the prevention of unsolicited commercial electronic messages, parental controls, or other similar capabilities), or offer cable service, so long as a user may refuse or disable such services; (4) give priority to emergency communications; or (5) prevent any violation of Federal or State law, or comply with any court-ordered law enforcement directive."
The amendment then provided that the FCC shall write rules within 180 days "providing for the expedited review of any complaints alleging a violation of this section. Such regulations shall include a requirement that the Commission issue a final order regarding any request for a ruling contained in a complaint not later than 30 days after the date of submission of such complaint."
Rep. Eshoo (at right), who represents a Silicon Valley district, gave a passionate, but imprecise, defense of network neutrality principles. She said that it means not allowing broadband companies to "tax" or "squash" the internet. It means "mits off the internet".
Rep. Heather Wilson (R-NM), the only Republican to support this amendment, argued that broadband providers want to develop a second stream of revenues from content providers. She said that prioritizing information is how they plan to accomplish this. She argued that content providers "should not have to pay the owners of the pipe".
Rep. Boucher argued that the Congress should preserve the open and accessible nature of the internet, which is its "historical architectural characteristic". He added that the network neutrality amendment would preserve the "status quo".
Rep. Inslee argued that pipe owners should not be gate keepers of freedom of speech. He said that "all data is created equally", and should be treated equally.
Rep. Barton argued that the Title II of the base bill, which enables the FCC to enforce on a case by case basis the network neutrality principles adopted on August 5, 2005, are sufficient.
The amendment failed on a roll call vote. This completed the Committee's consideration of amendments to Title II. It then proceeded to amendments to Title III, regarding VOIP/911 and other regulation of VOIP services.
20. Stearns: Notice of Activation of VOIP Service. The Committee approved by voice vote an amendment [2 pages in PDF] offered by Rep. Cliff Stearns (R-FL).
It provides that "Prior to installation or number activation of VOIP service for a customer, a VOIP service provider shall provide clear and conspicuous notice to the customer that -- (A) such customer should arrange with his or her emergency response system provider, if any, to test such system after installation; (B) such customer should notify his or her emergency response system provider after VOIP service is installed; and (C) a battery backup is required for customer premises equipment installed in connection with the VOIP service in order for the signaling of such system to function in the event of a power outage."
By this point of the mark up, the Committee was considering amendments in rapid succession. When the Committee approved the next amendment (21), it inadvertently removed the language of the Stearns amendment. Later in the mark up, after staff realized this, the Committee then again approved the Stearns amendment.
21. Gordon: Regulation of VOIP: 911. The Committee approved by voice vote an amendment [10 pages in PDF] offered by Rep. Bart Gordon (D-TN) (at right), Rep. Chip Pickering (R-MS), Rep. Anna Eshoo (D-CA), Rep. John Shimkus (R-IL), and Rep. Mike Ferguson (R-NJ).
This amendment replaces the new Section 716 of the Communications Act to be created by Title III of this bill. This section provides that "Each VOIP service provider has a duty to ensure that 911 and EĖ911 services are provided to subscribers of VOIP services."
During debate on this amendment, Rep. Markey asked a number of questions to Committee staff. What this line of questioning revealed is that staff do not share a common understanding of how some parts of this provision would operate.
Then, Rep. Barton, the sponsor and manager of the bill, asked a series of questions that revealed that he does not understand the technology that is to be regulated by this Title of the bill.
Rep. Markey concluded that this provision needs a lot of work.
Rep. Gordon's response was that the questions raised by Rep. Markey go to the definitions in the base bill, rather than the language in his amendment. The Committee approved this amendment by voice vote. There were no votes against the amendment.
22. Stupak: Legacy Regulation of VOIP: Universal Service. The Committee rejected by voice vote an amendment [2 pages in PDF] offered by Rep. Bart Stupak (D-MI) regarding VOIP and universal service.
This amendment provided that "Nothing in this Act (including the amendments made by this Act) shall be construed to exempt a VOIP service provider from requirements imposed by the Federal Communications Commission or a State commission on all VOIP service providers to -- (1) pay appropriate compensation for the transmission of a VOIP service over the facilities and equipment of another provider; or (2) contribute on an equitable and non-discriminatory basis to the preservation and advancement of universal service."
23. Inslee: Legacy Regulation of VOIP: Disability Access. The Committee approved by voice vote an amendment [1 page in PDF] offered by Rep. Jay Inslee (D-WA) that replaces the language in the base bill regarding disability access.
It provides that "A VOIP service provider or a manufacturer of VOIP service equipment shall have the same rights, duties, and obligations as a telecommunications carrier or telecommunications equipment manufacturer, respectively, under sections 225, 255, and 710 of the Act. Within 1 year after the date of enactment of this Act, the Commission, in consultation with the Architectural and Transportation Barriers Compliance Board, shall prescribe such regulations as are necessary to implement this section. In implementing this subsection, the Commission shall consider whether a VOIP service provider or manufacturer of VOIP service equipment primarily markets such service or equipment as a substitute for telecommunications service, telecommunications equipment, customer premises equipment, or telecommunications relay services."
This replaces the language on this subject approved during the Subcommittee mark up on April 5. At that mark up Rep. Barton opposed imposing old regulatory regimes on new internet services. He suggested that the language might be removed. However, the Committee approved this amendment by voice vote.
Rep. Pickering received consent to offer an amendment to Title III later in the hearing. (See, Amendment 33, below.) Otherwise, this completed the Committee's consideration of amendments to Title III. The Committee then considered amendments to Title IV, which deals with municipal service offerings.
24. Buyer: FCC Report on Municipal Service Offerings. The Committee approved by voice vote an amendment [1 page in PDF] offered by Rep. Steve Buyer (R-IN) that requires the FCC to write a report within one year "on the status of the provision of telecommunications service, information service, and cable service by States and political subdivisions thereof."
The base bill provides, in part, that "Neither the Communications Act of 1934 nor any State statute, regulation, or other State legal requirement may prohibit or have the effect of prohibiting any public provider of telecommunications service, information service, or cable service (as such terms are defined in sections 3 and 602 of such Act) from providing such services to any person or entity." (Parentheses in original.)
25. Terry: Grandfathering of State Prohibitions of Municipal Service Offerings. The Committee rejected by voice vote an amendment [1 page in PDF] offered by Rep. Lee Terry (R-IA) that would have grandfathered existing bans on municipal offerings.
His amendment provided that "Nothing in this section shall affect any State law, rule, regulation or legal requirement that is in effect on the date of enactment of this section and that governs, applies to, limits, restricts, or establishes requirements relating to, the provision of telecommunications, telecommunications service, information service, or cable service by a public provider."
This concluded the Committee's consideration of amendments to Title IV. It then proceeded to amendments to Title V, which provides that "A broadband service provider shall not require a subscriber, as a condition on the purchase of any broadband service the provider offers, to purchase any cable service or telecommunications service offered by the provider." This language was added during the April 5 Subcommittee mark up via an amendment offered by Rep. Rick Boucher (D-VA). (Amendment 28 below amends this language.)
26. Blackburn: Regulation of Wireless Services. Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN), Rep. Rick Boucher (D-VA), and Rep. Jay Inslee (D-WA) offered an amendment [2 pages in PDF] that provided that states cannot regulate wireless services, and that the FCC shall write national wireless consumer protection rules.
First, the amendment provided that "Notwithstanding any other provision of law, no State or local governmental entity shall, for any mobile service or any other service that is primarily intended for receipt on or use with a wireless device that is used by a customer of mobile service in connection with such mobile service, regulate or adjudicate the rates, terms, or conditions of the offering of such service. Except with respect to laws that regulate or have the effect of regulating the rates, terms, conditions and entry of the offering of such service, this subsection shall not be construed to apply to State or local laws that are generally applicable to businesses in the State or locality, respectively."
Second, the amendment provided that the FCC shall "by rule establish national consumer protection standards for subscribers to mobile service."
However, the amendment was not germane to the bill, and she withdrew it.
27. Ross: FCC BPL Study. The Committee approved an amendment [1 page in PDF] offered by Rep. Mike Ross (D-AR) that requires the FCC to write a "study of the interference potential of broadband over power line systems".
28. Pickering: No Tying of VOIP to Broadband Offering. The Committee approved by voice vote an amendment [1 page in PDF] offered by Rep. Chip Pickering (R-MS) that clarifies that a broadband service provider cannot tie a broadband service offering to cable service, telecommunications service, or VOIP service. It adds the reference to VOIP service.
Hence, the opening paragraph to Title V now reads as follows: "A broadband service provider shall not require a subscriber, as a condition on the purchase of any broadband service the provider offers, to purchase any cable service, telecommunications service or VOIP service offered by the provider."
This amendment is labeled as a Rep. Pickering amendment, also offered by Rep. Boucher. During the mark up, Rep. Boucher offered the amendment on behalf of Rep. Pickering, who was out of the room at the time. The HCC web site identifies it as a Rep. Boucher amendment.
29. DeGette: FCC Regulation of Data Retention. Rep. Diana DeGette (D-CO) offered, and withdrew, an amendment [2 pages in PDF] regarding data retention.
This mark up lasted from just after 10:00 AM until nearly 7:00 PM, with two breaks to cast votes on the House floor. She offered this amendment late in the meeting when members were anxious to wrap up. There was little debate or discussion.
Rep. DeGette (at right) described this as measure to ensure that ISPs will preserve data needed by law enforcement authorities to investigate and prosecute violators of child pornography laws.
The amendment, as drafted, is far broader in its reach. As drafted, it would mandate a vast expansion of surveillance, storage of communications, and accessibility to stored communications.
It would also make fundamental changes to the way criminal procedure is written. It treats as Title 47 subject matter, and Commerce Committee jurisdiction, what has heretofore been addressed via Title 18, under Judiciary Committee jurisdiction. It would also convert what has heretofore been a matter of federal statutory law into FCC administrative law.
The amendment provided that the FCC "shall prescribe regulations requiring each provider of Internet access services to retain records to permit the identification of subscribers to such services for appropriate law enforcement purposes. Such records shall, in accordance with such regulations, be retained for not less than one year after a subscriber ceases to subscribe to such services."
The amendment defined "Internet access service" broadly to mean any "service that enables users to access content, information, electronic mail, or other services offered over the Internet, and may also include access to proprietary content, information, and other services as part of a package of services offered to consumers. Such term does not include telecommunications services."
The amendment did not define "records", "subscribers", or other key terms.
This would include not only ISPs but also any "services offered over the Internet" that provide "access to ... information". This is a definition that might include all manner of content providers and e-commerce sites, and anyone who writes a blog, operates a website, or maintains an e-mail list.
Rep. DeGette stated at the mark up that she was not satisfied with the language of her amendment. Also, TLJ spoke with a member of Rep. DeGette's staff who stated that the amendment was drafted in house in a "rushed process", and that Rep. DeGette plans to revise it, with the assistance of legislative counsel, and either offer it as an amendment when the full House takes up the bill, or as a stand alone bill.
Rep. Barton expressed support for the amendment, and promised to work with Rep. DeGette. He also stated that the amendment might not be germane to the bill, and that inclusion of the amendment might give the House Judiciary Committee a claim to jurisdiction.
Rep. DeGette withdrew the amendment.
30. Stearns: Exclusive Federal Jurisdiction. Rep. Stearns offered an amendment [2 pages in PDF] that provided that, except as other provided in the COPE Act, "advanced Internet communications services are interstate services and are subject to exclusive Federal jurisdiction." It further provided that "advanced Internet communications service" means "a service or application provided over an Internet protocol platform or for which an Internet protocol capability is an integral component, and a service or application that enables an end user to send or receive a communication in Internet protocol format, regardless of whether the communication is voice, data, video, or any other form."
He withdrew this amendment.
31. Gonzalez: FCC Study of Search Engine Business Practices. The Committee rejected an amendment [2 pages in PDF] offered by Rep. Charlie Gonzalez (D-TX) that would have directed the FCC to write a report on the the business practices of large search engine and e-commerce companies.
That is, it would have required the FCC to examine the companies who have been at the forefront of the lobbying and publicity campaign against the COPE Act, and who have been criticizing the business practices of the cable and telecom companies.
Rep. Gonzalez took a number of the accusations about current or prospective business practices that the opponents of the bill have leveled against the cable and telecom companies, and asked for the FCC to examine whether the content companies are engaging in related business practices.
This culminated a debate that had been waged all day over the comparative virtues of the large access providers and the large content providers. Those who opposed the bill and supported the network neutrality amendment, and especially Rep. Anna Eshoo (D-CA), attacked the motivations and likely business practices of the large access providers, such as SBC, AT&T and Verizon. Rep. Eshoo represents a Silicon Valley district. Hence, many of her constituents work for search engines and other content companies.
In contrast, Rep. Gonzalez represents a San Antonio district. Many of his constituents work for SBC. Throughout the day he argued that SBC and other access providers are part of the solution, not part of the problem.
Rep. Gonzalez took delight at the end of the mark up in offering an amendment that would have had the effect of shifting some attention to Rep. Eshoo's constituents' companies.
Rep. Eshoo was not amused. She said that "this amendment is about regulating search engines" and that the search engines have done nothing wrong.
Rep. Ed Markey, who offered the network neutrality amendment, said that Rep. Gonzalez's amendment was a "fishing expedition".
Rep. Gene Green (D-TX), who voted for the amendment, conceded that this may be a "fishing expedition", but "we may catch a big one".
Rep. Barton urged support for the amendment, on the grounds that it is only a study, and because Rep. Gonzalez plans to vote for the bill.
In the roll call vote the clerk called the roll, Republicans first, in order of seniority, with the Chairman voting last. Republicans were voting unanimously for the amendment until Rep. Charles Norwood (R-GA) broke with the Chairman's recommendation. After that, all other Republicans, except Rep. Pickering and Rep. Barton, voted against the amendment. Several Democrats also backed Rep. Gonzalez.
Rep. Gonzalez's amendment would have required the FCC to write a study regarding "The preferential pricing practices of the top five Internet search engines by usage and the top five electronic commerce sites by revenue", "Whether each company offers a preferential search status to companies that have a preexisting financial relationship with the company and whether that relationship is disclosed to customers", "What consumer information each company routinely collects from its users and how that information is used to the benefit of advertisers on their sites and what sort of notice is provided to users that such information is being collected", and "Whether each site properly discloses to consumers special tying and other promotional relationships it may have with other entities and whether it offers special low cost rates to new upstart Internet companies that seek to link to their sites."
The amendment failed on a roll call vote of 11 to 43.
32. Shimkus: Seamless Mobility. The Committee approved by voice vote an amendment [2 pages in PDF] offered by Rep. John Shimkus (R-IL) and Rep. Jay Inslee (D-WA) regarding seamless mobility.
The amendment requires the FCC to "implement a process for streamlined review and authorization of mult-mode devices that permit communications across multiple Internet protocol-enabled broadband platforms, facilities, and networks".
It also requires the FCC to conduct a study of "to identify barriers to the achievement of seamless mobility".
Finally, the Committee considered another amendment to Title III, regarding regulation of VOIP services.
33. Pickering: Regulation of VOIP. The Committee approved by voice vote an amendment [2 pages in PDF] offered by Rep. Chip Pickering (R-MS)
First, this amendment provides that "A telecommunications carrier may use interconnection, services, and network elements obtained pursuant to sections 251 and 252 from an incumbent local exchange carrier (as such term is defined in section 251(h)) to exchange VOIP service traffic with such incumbent local exchange carrier regard less of the provider originating such VOIP service traffic, including an affiliate of such telecommunications carrier." (Parentheses in original.)
Second, this amendment replaces the bill's definition of "facilities-based VOIP service provider". The amendment provides that it means "an entity that provides VOIP service over a physical facility that terminates at the end userís location and which such entity or an affiliate owns or over which such entity or affiliate has exclusive use. An entity or affiliate shall be considered a facilities-based VOIP service provider only in those geographic areas where such terminating physical facilities are located."
This concluded the Committee's consideration of amendments.
It then voted on final approval of the bill, as amended. It was approved on a roll call vote of 42 to 12.
Other amendments that were drafted, but not offered, are not summarized in this article. Also, some members raised additional issues during debate, or while questioning committee staff. These are not summarized in this article.
The following table sets out the results of the roll call votes. The vote
tallies listed above are those reported by the Committee clerk at the conclusion
of each vote. At least two of these are likely to be revised by the Committee
when it reports the bill. Not outcomes will be affected. The clerk quickly
counts by hand and reports the results. Reporters who also record votes,
tabulate totals, replay their audio records, and compare results with other
reporters occasionally find minor discrepancies with the clerk's totals.
Reporters make errors also. There are roll call votes set out below for which
one total varies by one from that announced by the clerk.
Roll Call Votes On COPE Act
April 26, 2006
|Summary of Amendments:
2.Solis: Build Out Mandate. Failed 22-33.
4. Waxman: Income Discrimination. Failed 22-29.
5. Solis: Discrimination. Failed 23-29.
6. Dingell: Local Authority. Failed 23-30.
7. Doyle: Local Enforcement Authority. Failed 23-27.
8. Baldwin: Redlining. Failed 20-28.
18. Baldwin: Increased Funding for PEG Access. Failed 19-20.
19. Markey: Network Neutrality. Failed 22-34.
31. Gonzalez: FCC Study of Search Engine Business Practices. Failed 11-43.
FP. Final Passage. Approved 42-12.