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Bryan Watch: April Week 2

Republicans Reject Net Neutrality

The second week of April was pretty slow for Congress. Only 11 votes cast, and six were non-party line votes. Of the five party line votes, three were procedural.

Party line votes first. The big partisan issue of the week was the Save The Internet Act (HR 1664), a bill designed to reverse the decision by the Federal Communications Commission to end net neutrality and restore net neutrality to where it was in 2015.

For the last two years, internet service providers have been able to act with almost no constraints, screwing consumers left and right. HR 1664 seeks to restore a little balance for consumers in the internet arena. Representative Steil and every single one of his Republicans colleagues voted against restoring net neutrality (RC 167, Apr 10, Republicans 0-190) and also voted for a completely pointless measure on internet taxation (RC 166, Apr 10, Walden motion to recommit).

Steil and all other Republicans voted against considering HR 1644 and against considering HR 2021, the Investing for the People Act (RC 160 and 161, April 9).

On his one positive party line vote this week, Steil voted to approve the journal on Monday. (RC 159, April 8; Republicans 31-139, Steil Yes).

On the non-party line side, Congress took the bold step of coming out against child pornography (RC 165, April 10, McAdams Amendment to HR 1644) and the routine step of allowing the Soap Box Derby to take place on Capitol Hill (RC 157. H Con Res 19, April 8).

Steil also voted in favor of collecting information regarding how companies provide internet service, particularly in rural areas; not all of his Republican colleagues shared his concern about rural internet service (RC 164, Wexton amendment [H Amdt 162] and RC 163, Delgado amendment {H Amdt 160], both passed April 10).

Steil also supported the Building on Reemployment Improvements to Deliver Good Employment for Workers Act (BRIDGE Act), along with 167 other Republicans. The bill would help unemployed people obtain job training and assistance in finding employment. Only 24 Republicans voted against it – not one of them explained why, at least not on the floor (RC 162, April 9. HR 1759).

The other bill which passed with broad bi-partisan support was the Local Water Protection Act (HR 1331), which Republicans (including Steil) supported 117-56. The bill does exactly what it sounds like, provides funding for programs by the Environmental Protection Agency that protect water quality. Again, none of the 56 who were opposed explained why (RC 158, April 8).

While Congress wasn’t very busy, there was enough to establish the Crazy Caucus for the week. Three members voted No on roll calls 158, 162 and 163. They were Justin Amash (MI), Andy Biggs (AZ), Mo Brooks (AL), Ken Buck (CO), Tim Burchett (TN), Ben Cline (VA), Jeff Duncan (SC), Kevin Hern (OK), Jody Hice (GA), Mike Johnson (LA), Jim Jordan (OH), Thomas Massie (KY), Ralph Norman (SC) and Ted Yoho (FL).

So far, in his first three months in congress, Steil has generally answered at his party’s call, with an occasional break in the ranks to vote for the Journal. Most of the time, he has acted as a loyal backbencher.

On Monday, April 8,  Steil decided to do some grandstanding on the budget, calling out House Democrats for failing to produce a budget for FY 2020. Mind you, the Trump administration only provided its budget on March 11, so House Democrats have had less than a month to process a 150 page $4.7 trillion budget that is amazing in its awfulness. I would suggest that it may be Steil’s inexperience, and that he doesn’t understand how the congressional budget process works. Except for the fact that he was a staffer for Paul Ryan, one of Washington’s leading budget wonks. Let’s just chalk it up to grandstanding (Congressional Record, H3120).

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