From the Congressional Record Online through GPO
PROVIDING FOR CONSIDERATION OF S.J. RES. 34, PROVIDING FOR
CONGRESSIONAL DISAPPROVAL OF A RULE SUBMITTED BY THE FEDERAL
Mr. BURGESS. Mr. Speaker, by direction of the Committee on Rules, I
call up House Resolution 230 and ask for its immediate consideration.
The Clerk read the resolution, as follows:
H. Res. 230
Resolved, That upon adoption of this resolution it shall be
in order to consider in the House the joint resolution (S.J.
Res. 34) providing for congressional disapproval under
chapter 8 of title 5, United States Code, of the rule
submitted by the Federal Communications Commission relating
to “Protecting the Privacy of Customers of Broadband and
Other Telecommunications Services”. All points of order
against consideration of the joint resolution are waived. The
joint resolution shall be considered as read. All points of
order against provisions in the joint resolution are waived.
The previous question shall be considered as ordered on the
joint resolution and on any amendment thereto to final
passage without intervening motion except: (1) one hour of
debate equally divided and controlled by the chair and
ranking minority member of the Committee on Energy and
Commerce; and (2) one motion to commit.
The SPEAKER pro tempore. The gentleman from Texas is recognized for 1
Mr. BURGESS. Mr. Speaker, for the purpose of debate only, I yield the
customary 30 minutes to the gentleman from Colorado (Mr. Polis),
pending which I yield myself such time as I may consume. During
consideration of this resolution, all time yielded is for the purpose
of debate only.
Mr. BURGESS. Mr. Speaker, I ask unanimous consent that all Members
may have 5 legislative days to revise and extend their remarks.
The SPEAKER pro tempore. Is there objection to the request of the
gentleman from Texas?
There was no objection.
Mr. BURGESS. Mr. Speaker, House Resolution 230 provides for a rule to
consider a Congressional Review Act resolution which will undo a
duplicative regulation put into place by the previous administration in
the final hours of that Presidency.
The rule brings before the House this resolution so that Congress may
remove through the proper legislative process rules promulgated by
bureaucrats who remain unaccountable to the American people. This
process allows those who are accountable--the elected Representatives
in Congress--to fight for our constituents' rights and liberties.
House Resolution 230 provides for a closed rule for the Congressional
Review Act resolution, S.J. Res. 34, the standard procedure for such
resolutions, since the sole purpose of the resolution is to remove a
regulation from the Federal Register.
The rule allows for 1 hour of debate, equally divided between the
chair and ranking member of the Committee on Energy and Commerce.
Further, the minority is afforded the customary motion to commit.
The Federal Communications Commission issued its Open Internet Order,
reclassifying broadband providers as common carriers, which brought
them under the jurisdiction of the Federal Communications Commission.
The Federal Trade Commission is the primary regulator of companies'
privacy and data security practices; however, the Federal Trade
Commission's regulatory authority under section 5 of the Federal Trade
Commission Act does not extend to common carriers. Therefore, the
reclassification of broadband internet service providers as common
carriers created a legal enforcement gap.
The Federal Communications Commission determined that the privacy
provisions of the Communications Act would now apply to broadband
internet service providers and that new and expanded privacy rules were
necessary. Therefore, the Federal Communications Commission promulgated
new privacy rules for common carriers on October 27, 2016. These rules
were adopted a mere 10 days before the 2016 Presidential election. They
were adopted on a party-line vote and over serious objections by the
minority Commission members and the internet service providers. The
Federal Communications Commission's rules are a departure from the
privacy protections that have been applied by the Federal Trade
Commission for years.
The Federal Trade Commission employs an opt-out model that requires
companies to provide consumers notice of the data that is collected and
how it will be used. Consumers are then given the option to opt out of
this data collection if they so choose. Instead of implementing well-
established collection practices that are accepted industrywide, the
Federal Communications Commission chose to promulgate an opt-in model
for its new internet service providers. This model prohibits broadband
internet service providers from using, disclosing, or providing access
to customer proprietary information without the customer's affirmative
opt-in consent. Such data includes browsing history, application usage,
and location data, among other types of information.
While this may sound like a good thing to opt in to, in reality, it
unfairly skews the market in favor of providers that already have
access to consumer information. For example, search engines, social
media sites, and internet content providers like Netflix, Google,
Facebook, Amazon, and Apple, these providers, known as edge providers,
are free to collect consumer data that broadband internet service
providers, under the jurisdiction of the Federal Communications
Commission, are not. The ability to provide consumer data drives the
digital advertising market.
The Federal Communications Commission's privacy rules arbitrarily
treat internet service providers differently from the rest of the
internet, amounting to government intervention in the free market. The
Federal Communications Commission stated that the rules would provide
more transparency, the rules would provide more choice, the rules would
provide more protection; however, these expanded provisions may also
result in more frequent breach notifications, leading to a weaker focus
on security by consumers who do suffer from notification fatigue.
While the Federal Communications Commission's privacy rules were
meant to protect consumers, they actually can inhibit security and
market competition while creating confusion by subjecting parts of the
internet ecosystem to different rules and different jurisdictions. To
correct this policy, on March 23, 2017, the Senate passed S.J. Res. 34,
a Congressional Review Act resolution of disapproval to nullify the
privacy rulemaking promulgated by the Federal Communications
Prior to the reclassification of broadband internet service providers
as common carriers under the jurisdiction of the Federal Communications
Commission, the Federal Trade Commission regulated companies' privacy
practices while preserving the Federal Communications Commission's
authority to enforce privacy obligations of broadband service providers
on a case-by-case basis.
This Congressional Review Act will restore the status quo that
existed prior to the Federal Communications Commission's Open Internet
Order and bring the privacy practices of all parts of the internet back
into balance. Not only will this level the playing field for an
increasingly anticompetitive market, but it will ensure parity in the
protection of consumer data.
The new Chairman of the Federal Communications Commission, Ajit Pai,
has called to halt the Federal Communications Commission's privacy
rules. He stated: “All actors in the online space should be subject to
the same rules. . . . The Federal Government shouldn't favor one set of
companies over another.” This is precisely the type of limited
government that we should be striving for after years of overreaching
by the previous administration and its regulations. The Congressional
Review Act protects consumers, and it restores the free market
competitiveness that actually allows our economy to thrive.
The Congressional Review Act is an important tool in maintaining
accountability at the Federal level. Its necessity has never been more
apparent than over the past 2 months, where this Congress has needed to
step in and remove burdensome, unbalanced regulations put in place by
the prior administration and their team just as they were walking out
House Republicans today will stand up for the rights of our
constituents against the out-of-control Federal bureaucracy. I urge my
colleagues to support today's rule and the underlying Congressional
Review Act resolution.
Mr. Speaker, I reserve the balance of my time.
Mr. POLIS. Mr. Speaker, up until now, every President since Gerald
Ford has disclosed their tax return information. These returns provide
a basic level of transparency that helps ensure the public's
interest is placed first. The American people deserve the same level of
disclosure from this administration. Mr. Speaker, if we defeat the
previous question, I will offer an amendment to the rule to bring up
Representative Eshoo's bill that would require Presidents and major
party nominees for the Presidency to release their tax returns.
Mr. Speaker, I ask unanimous consent to insert the text of my
amendment in the Record, along with extraneous material, immediately
prior to the vote on the previous question.
The SPEAKER pro tempore. Is there objection to the request of the
gentleman from Colorado?
There was no objection.
Mr. POLIS. Mr. Speaker, I yield 7 minutes to the gentlewoman from
California (Ms. Eshoo) to discuss this proposal and also the important
aspects of the underlying bill that need to be responded to.
Ms. ESHOO. Mr. Speaker, I thank my friend and colleague from Colorado
for his leadership and for yielding time to me.
First of all, I would like to respond to the gentleman's presentation
about the underlying bill.
Make no mistake about it, what the underlying bill does today is it
wipes out--it totally wipes out--privacy protections for consumers on
the internet. That is what it does. There are not duplicative
regulations. I know that it was stated on the floor that there are
There are two agencies--the Federal Communications Commission and the
Federal Trade Commission--however, it is only the FCC, the Federal
Communications Commission, that can actually protect consumers by
enforcing the protections. The FTC does not have that authority.
What happens today if these privacy protections are ripped away from
the American people? Well, all the information that you give to your
internet service provider, whether it is Comcast, whether it is cable
providers, Charter, AT&T, the one that you pay a pretty big bill to,
they can take all of the information that they have--my account, your
account, your account, your account--and use that information to sell
it to the highest bidder to make money off of it.
Now, there is an additional charge in this thing, alleged charge, and
well, what about Google and Netflix and Facebook? What about them? Why
aren't they subject to what the FCC did? Well, they are edge providers.
They are edge providers.
You don't have to go to Google. You don't have to go to Facebook. You
don't have to go to Netflix in order to get your internet service. That
is why the FCC did not apply these rules to them. Maybe there should be
a debate about them. But to equalize and say that Google and Facebook
are equal to your internet service provider suggests to me that some
people just don't know what they are talking about.
This is a subject that the American people feel very, very deeply
about. In fact, I think it is in the DNA of every American: “I want my
privacy, and it should be protected.” We all feel that way.
What is being done today is a ripping away. It is like taking a
bandage, just stripping it away. Who do you go to? Who do you go to
complain to? No one. No one. Because there isn't anything left to
I think it is a sad day if the underlying bill passes. I think it is
shocking that my Republican colleagues, either out of a lack of
understanding of how the internet works, how their constituents--all of
our constituents benefit from these protections of our privacy, and our
information is private. I don't want anyone to take my information and
sell it to someone and make a ton of money off of it just because they
can get their mitts on it. That is why the privacy protections were
May I ask how much time is remaining?
The SPEAKER pro tempore. The gentlewoman has 3 minutes remaining.
Mr. POLIS. Mr. Speaker, I yield an additional 1 minute to the
gentlewoman from California.
The SPEAKER pro tempore. The gentlewoman has 4 minutes remaining.
Ms. ESHOO. Mr. Speaker, I will close that one off and go to the other
reason that I am on the floor today. I thank the gentleman again for
yielding me the time.
I rise in opposition to the rule and, obviously, the underlying
resolution; and I urge my colleagues to defeat the previous question so
that my bipartisan bill, the Presidential Tax Transparency Act, can be
made in order for immediate floor debate and a vote.
Mr. Speaker, my legislation would require the President and all
future Presidents and Presidential nominees to publicly disclose their
tax returns. It is a very simple bill.
This is the third time this year that I have offered this bill as the
previous question motion, and for the last several weeks, Members--
including Mr. Polis, Mr. Pascrell, Mr. Crowley, Ms. Lofgren, and
myself--have offered privileged resolutions directing the House to
request the President's tax returns. Nearly every day we give the
majority the opportunity to demonstrate leadership on this issue, and
nearly every day they continue to help the President hide his tax
returns from the public.
Now, every President of both parties, since Gerald Ford, has
voluntarily made their tax returns public. The President has 564
financial positions in companies located in the United States and
around the world, according to the Federal Election Commission, making
him more susceptible to conflicts of interest than any President in our
history. Without disclosure of his tax returns, the American people are
prevented from knowing where his income comes from, whether he is
dealing with foreign powers, what he owes and to whom, and how he may
directly benefit from the policies he proposes.
There are daily revelations about previously undisclosed meetings
between the President's staff and Russian officials, as well as a
steady flow of troubling information about The Trump Organization's
ties to state-connected businesses and individuals in Turkey,
Azerbaijan, China, and other countries. Last week, The New York Times
reported that The Trump Organization is finalizing an agreement to
build a hotel in partnership with a firm that has “deep Turkish
roots” and business ties in Russia, Kazakhstan, and two dozen other
Without the disclosure of the President's tax returns, there is no
way for the American people to know the full extent of his foreign
entanglements and possible conflicts of interest on this or other deals
that his family business is engaged in.
I think the House is failing, Mr. Speaker, to exercise our
constitutional obligation to conduct effective oversight and operate as
a check on the executive branch. We can change that today by taking up
and passing this bipartisan bill, which will ensure that the President,
and all future Presidents, will be held to a baseline level of
disclosure. That is why I urge my colleagues to defeat the previous
question, so we can hold an immediate vote on the Presidential Tax
Mr. BURGESS. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself 1 minute.
Mr. Speaker, to bring us back to the business at hand, which is the
rule allowing the vote on the Congressional Review Act later today, I
want to quote now from the web page of the Federal Trade Commission,
under the title of Protecting Consumer Privacy. Reading from their
The Federal Trade Commission has been the chief Federal
it began enforcing one of the first Federal privacy laws--the
Fair Credit Reporting Act. Since then, rapid changes in
technology have raised new privacy challenges, but the
Federal Trade Commission's overall approach has been
consistent. The agency uses law enforcement, policy
initiatives, and consumer and business education to protect
consumers' personal information and ensure that they have the
confidence to take advantage of the many benefits of an ever-
This is from the ftc.gov website.
Mr. Speaker, I include in the Record the web page of the Federal
Federal Trade Commission
Protecting Consumer Privacy
and enforcement since the 1970s, when it began enforcing one
of the first federal privacy laws--the Fair Credit Reporting
Act. Since then, rapid changes in technology have raised new
privacy challenges, but the FTC's overall approach has been
consistent: The agency uses law enforcement, policy
initiatives, and consumer and business education to protect
consumers' personal information and ensure that they have the
confidence to take advantage of the many benefits of the
FTC's Privacy Report: Balancing Privacy and Innovation;
The Do Not Track Option: Giving Consumers a Choice;
Making Sure Companies Keep Their Privacy Promises to
Protecting Consumers' Financial Privacy;
The Children's Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA): What
Parents Should Know.
Mr. BURGESS. Mr. Speaker, I thank the men and women of the Federal
Trade Commission for all the work they have done over the years in
protecting our privacy.
Mr. Speaker, I reserve the balance of my time.
Mr. POLIS. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume.
Mr. Speaker, I rise in opposition to the rule and the resolution.
This resolution undermines fundamental privacy for every internet
user. You hear my colleague on the other side trying to conflate
different things. When your broadband provider can sell your
information, and there is no rule prohibiting them from doing so--
effectively that includes all of your browsing history, data entered in
forms, everything that you have done on the internet that has
absolutely nothing to do with a relationship with a particular content
provider or e-commerce company; you can enter information, obviously,
for the express purpose of them optimizing your experience or selling
you a product--they are then the owners of that information, and you
have choice in the marketplace. Whereas, with our broadband providers,
most of us don't have a choice. You either sign up for the local cable
company or you don't.
Before I discuss the many disastrous facets of this resolution, I
also want to point out that this is yet another closed rule. There have
been absolutely no open rules that allow Democrats and Republicans to
bring forward amendments. No amendments are allowed under this rule
here on the floor of the House of Representatives. Sadly, that has
become the norm.
The FCC recently took steps to reevaluate their rule. Commissioner
Pai even paused their implementation to examine the FCC doing their
Now, why would Congress step in and use the CRA authority, a very
cumbersome authority, that also prohibits future implementation of
In many ways, it hamstrings the agency.
What we are worried about is that, if this bill were to become law,
it would essentially be impossible for the FCC to act to protect the
privacy of Americans who use broadband ever again. So it is not a
matter of a nuance under this rule. If we go through the process of
passing a CRA, the FCC wouldn't be able to pass any rule--or if they
did, it would be under a legal cloud--to protect the privacy of the
American people. That is the danger: that CRAs are effectively
The second aspect is that the FCC has already established a notice
and comment period that allows for comment on the new rules. By going
around that, we would avoid government transparency.
So here is what is at stake. On October 27, 2016, after a 6-month
rulemaking process that was open to public comment and received
comments, the FCC developed a commonsense rule to protect our privacy.
The rule that we are talking about undoing basically does three things,
which are great.
It requires broadband internet access service providers to obtain
opt-in consent before using or sharing sensitive information. Sounds
obvious that we would want that. We wouldn't want information that
doesn't have an opt-in consent to be sold or used. That includes things
like web browsing history or data that is entered on forms.
It would also require broadband providers to use reasonable measures
to protect the cybersecurity of our data. Again, of course.
Third, it requires that broadband providers notify consumers in the
event of a breach of information. Again, just like we have with credit
card companies, we want some kind of affirmative information that is
given to consumers that your information may be breached if there is a
cybersecurity threat that might do that.
This bill undoes all those things. It says that you don't have to
notify people if there is a breach, you don't need to have reasonable
measures to protect cybersecurity, and, most importantly, with regard
to privacy, it will no longer require opt-in consent before using,
sharing, or selling your most intimate personal data that you use on
Now, look at the implications of this rollback. It is not just a
collection of internet data usage, but bulk collection of all of your
network traffic. A broadband provider could collect every search, every
website visited, every email written and received, every piece of data
entered, every article read, see how often you log in and how you use
various accounts for all members of your family, including minors, and
even your location, sell that information, and use that information
without restriction and without opt-in.
Think about what someone can conclude about this information--your
political affiliation, preferences, your health.
What could they do with it?
They could charge pricing of goods and services discriminating
against you based on your income or your past purchasing behavior. Your
sensitive financial information could be used to steer you to higher
costs and worse financial products. This rule would literally change
how broadband providers have access to your entire personal life. It
would make the broadband providers the most valuable part of the
internet value chain.
Now, we all want broadband providers to have compensation for the
infrastructure costs and a reasonable profit. There is no doubt about
that. Those of us who advocate for net neutrality, as I do, or those
who advocate for privacy, we want them to have a reasonable return on
investment so that we can all have access to broadband. And we have
that largely through user fees and subscription fees.
Have you seen your cable bill, Mr. Speaker?
I have seen my cable bill. It ain't cheap anymore. But many families
pay for it because it is the best way to have fast access to the
And guess what?
The cable companies are able to justify broadband in many areas.
Again, maybe there are some tweaks, and it would be great if there is
a way we could have greater value for rural broadband and have them
have an ROI. We would love that. But the answer is not to turn over the
keys to the internet and all your personal data to cable companies and
say: You own it all. You are more powerful than Amazon, more powerful
than Google, more powerful than every consumer site because you own
everything that is entered into every one of those and more, and you
can sell it and use it as you see fit without restriction, without even
requiring that users opt in.
The value conveyance from the content side to the infrastructure side
of this bill would be game-changing and game-destroying for the free
and open internet. It simply makes no sense.
Look, consumers should have the right to choose with who and how they
share their personal information. When it comes to a broadband
provider, we simply don't have that choice that you do with consumer
websites like Facebook or Google, which are governed under a separate
set of laws.
Proponents of this bill are arguing that, because there is not
adequate protection somehow in social media and the edge providers
here, somehow the standard should be lower for broadband internet
services. It makes no sense. In today's day and age, not having
internet access is simply not an option for many Americans. To say you
can choose not to have broadband, maybe in some places you can pay more
for satellite and you might have some reasonably fast download but not
upload that may be spotty, maybe you want to use dial-in over your
phone. But for most of us--I use broadband. Most of us use broadband
through our cable because it is the most cost-effective way to have
high-speed internet access, and that is the case for most American
So this is not the time to get rid of privacy rules and convey the
vast ecosystem that is the internet away from the content and dynamism
that exists there to the broadband side. That is absurd.
People can choose not to use social media accounts, can choose what
they share, and can choose who to enter contracts with with regard to
searches or purchases. Social media is an optional platform that you
can choose between many providers, but the broadband access side
frequently looks and acts more like a monopoly.
Supporters of this bill also mention how this somehow levels the
playing field for broadband providers. What it does is it tilts the
playing field entirely in their favor. Internet service providers are a
gateway to the internet. They do not own the internet.
The second protection the rule offers is to require reasonable
measures be taken to protect the data that they want to collect. Again,
we all value cybersecurity and protection of this data. Given the
countless incidents of cyber hacking incidents, how can we entertain
the idea of rolling back a rule that requires reasonable measures to
protect consumer data? What are proponents advocating for? No measures
to protect consumer data?
The third important protection under this rule is the consumers whose
data has been breached should be notified. Again, that is important. I
had my credit card stolen a few years ago and got notified that it was.
I used it at another location where it might have been compromised and
I received notification. This eliminates that notification from users
of broadband. It would do away with that.
I would like to know, as would consumers, if my credit card
information was hacked. I want to know if my personal profile or
medical records or emails were hacked. If someone is able to attain my
children's names, our home address, information about the schools they
attend, or the homework they do, I would want to know.
Now, look, this bill moves entirely the wrong direction. It basically
seizes the value of the internet from content, from e-commerce, from
all of the important dynamism that occurs there and tries to apply that
to the broadband side rather than simply find a reasonable way for
broadband providers to see a return on investment.
Mr. Speaker, I reserve the balance of my time.
Mr. BURGESS. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself 1 minute.
Mr. Speaker, just to put some things in context, I wanted to share
some information from a blog called redstate.com, posted by Seton
Motley, on March 27, 2017, talking about the difference between the
size and scope of edge providers versus the ISPs, the internet service
providers. The parent company of one of the largest edge providers is
valued at over $500 billion. He points out in his blog post, by way of
comparison, the nation of Singapore's gross domestic product, the
entire output for every man, woman, and child in a very productive
country is $508 billion. Basically, the same. So the edge provider
stands on equal financial footing of the world's 40th richest country.
By way of contrast, the Nation's largest internet service provider
has a net worth of $148 billion. So the edge provider is more than
three and a half times larger than the Nation's largest ISP.
The SPEAKER pro tempore. The time of the gentleman has expired.
Mr. BURGESS. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself an additional 30 seconds.
I think we can begin to see the scope of the problem and why
unbalancing this playing field is inherently a bad idea.
Mr. Speaker, I reserve the balance of my time.
Mr. POLIS. Mr. Speaker, the evaluation is as it should be. Again,
when infrastructure is laid, we want a reasonable ROI. It is like
utility infrastructure or water infrastructure. I would never expect
that the world's most valuable companies would be the pipes in the
people's homes. The magic of the internet is the content. That is what
drives the desire for broadband access. And, of course, there are other
ways that people can access the internet, but broadband and cable have
a technical advantage on price and speed.
Mr. Speaker, I yield 3 minutes to the gentleman from Massachusetts
Mr. CAPUANO. Mr. Speaker, I thank the gentleman for yielding.
I have a simple question: What the heck are you thinking? What is in
your mind? Why would you want to give out any of your personal
information to a faceless corporation for the sole purchase of them
Give me one good reason why Comcast should know what my mother's
medical problems are. Do you know how they would know? Because when I
went to the doctor with her and they told me what it was, I had no clue
what they were talking about, so I came home and I searched it on the
net, and I searched the drugs that she was taking. The same with my
Just last week, I bought underwear on the internet. Why should you
know what size I take, or the color, or any of that information?
These companies are not going broke. That is not the situation. The
internet is not in jeopardy. This is plain and simple, and I don't get
When I was growing up, I thought one of the tenets of the Republican
Party that I admired the most was privacy. It is mine, not yours, not
the government's--mine. You can't have it unless I give it to you.
My phone number, my Social Security number, my credit card number, my
passwords--everything is mine. Yet you just want to give it away. You
make one good argument: let's level the playing field. You are right. I
agree with you. But you don't level the playing field by getting rid of
the playing field. You level it by raising it on those who are not
subject to this rule.
Please give me one--not two--one good reason why all of these people
here, why all of these people watching would want Comcast or Verizon to
have information unless they give it to them. We are talking medical
information. We are talking passwords. We are talking financial
information. We are talking college applications. There is nothing in
today's society that every one of us doesn't do every day on the
internet, yet Comcast is going to get it--not because I said it is
And what are you going to do with it? Kind of look at it and say: oh,
yeah, hey, Mike takes a size 38 underwear. That is great. They are
going to sell it to the underwear companies. Hey, he bought this kind
of underwear. He likes this color. Let's give him ads. By the way, most
of those ads are useless, because I already bought the underwear. I
don't need any more.
But it is none of their information. It is none of their business. Go
out in the street, please, leave Capitol Hill for 5 minutes. Go
anywhere you want, find three people on the street who think it is
okay, and you can explain to them ROIs, the company has to make
progress, and we have to make money.
You will lose that argument every single time, as you should. And I
guarantee you, you won't find anybody in your district who wants this
Mr. BURGESS. Mr. Speaker, I reserve the balance of my time.
Mr. POLIS. Mr. Speaker, I yield 2 minutes to the gentleman from
Minnesota (Mr. Ellison).
Mr. ELLISON. Mr. Speaker, I do quite agree with what Mr. Capuano just
shared, but I will say this: for anybody listening to this broadcast
today, this is a classic fight of the big money against the many. The
big money, they say that they want even more money, so they want to be
able to dig into your private information so that they can figure out
when you get up, when you go to bed, what you looked up, and then write
ads just so they could try to sell you more stuff.
And as disgusting as that is, you can see easily how that is not the
end of it. What if you have somebody who has something really sensitive
that they just want a little bit more information about, that is not of
a nature where it is saleable, but it is just their business? Well,
somebody else is going to know now. And they may well be able to
monetize it, gather it, and distribute it.
It is outrageous what the majority is doing today, and I can't
possibly believe that it is conservative, that it is small government.
I can't believe that they believe that this is what a government in
restraint should do. The government should be protecting our rights,
protecting our privacy. Small government means that the individual
ought to be protected from the big powers out there, like the corporate
interests, yet the majority is handing us over to them at this very
Mr. Speaker, I urge Members of the majority to vote against this. I
can't believe that a person who is a constitutional conservative would
ever vote for a monstrosity like this. It is beyond my comprehension
that a conservative libertarian would say: oh, yeah, give the
individuals' information over to the big commercial interests. This is
one of those moments.
The majority, you guys have the House, you have the Senate, and you
have the White House. The only restraint you have is yourselves. And I
know there has got to be somebody in that body who believes that
Comcast, Sprint, and all of the rest should not have anybody's
underwear size in this body.
It is an outrage. It is an abuse, and I urge a very emphatic “no.”
The SPEAKER pro tempore. Members are reminded to direct their remarks
to the Chair.
Mr. BURGESS. Mr. Speaker, I reserve the balance of my time.
Mr. POLIS. Mr. Speaker, I yield 1\1/2\ minutes to the gentleman from
California (Mr. Khanna).
Mr. KHANNA. Mr. Speaker, I thank Mr. Polis for yielding and for your
leadership on this issue.
This resolution would overturn rules that protect a consumer's
privacy, and they would be a handout to internet service providers:
Comcast, Verizon, AT&T. Now, as it is, the average American, 80 percent
of Americans, don't have a choice about which internet service provider
they can use, and they pay six to seven times more than people pay in
France, than people pay in Britain. And people wonder: Why is this?
Obviously, the United States did all of the research that invented
the internet. Why are Americans paying more? It is because they have
monopolistic, anticompetitive practices. So what is the solution?
Instead of making the industry more competitive so Americans have more
choice and don't have to pay as much, what this bill wants to do is
give these four or five internet service providers even more power,
allowing them to take an individual's data and sell it to whoever they
The fear of Big Brother is so real out there, as it is, people fear
that the bureaucracy and big companies are controlling their lives.
This bill would allow that to continue and get worse.
What we need is more anticompetitive legislation. What we need is a
stronger internet bill of rights that applies to ISPs and other
internet service companies not a rollback of the regulations that
Mr. BURGESS. Mr. Speaker, I reserve the balance of my time.
Mr. POLIS. Mr. Speaker, I would like to inquire if the gentleman has
any remaining speakers.
Mr. BURGESS. Mr. Speaker, I apparently do not have any additional
Mr. POLIS. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume.
It is no surprise that nobody wants to come to the floor and talk in
favor of this bill because it is such an awful bill. This bill would
allow your broadband provider of internet services to sell all of your
So, again, the other side is trying to conflate two entirely
different things. When you do a transaction within an e-commerce site
or search site, you are agreeing to their terms of service, and you are
engaging in a discrete transaction, and the information that you enter
is only a click away.
Whether there are any monopolistic content providers is a different
matter for a different day, and a different Federal agency--the FTC.
What we are talking about here is the access piece, the broadband
access piece. They actually, through the pipes, get to see all of the
information that is entered that you see: every email; all of your
credit card information; if you use the internet for any personal
medical research, all of your personal medical research; your kids'
information, everything your kids and minors in the family do. And what
this bill says is: you don't have to require people to opt in to have
their information used.
Consumers should be in control of their own information. They
shouldn't be forced to sell and give that information to who knows who
simply for the price of admission for access to the internet.
Again, we all want there to be a reasonable capital return on
infrastructure and on broadband. That is something we can agree on. If
there is a case to be made that we can do better in providing an
economic return to encourage rural broadband, I am for it. I know many
of my colleagues on the other side would be for it. Let's do it.
What we don't want to do in that process is turn over the entire
value chain of the internet to the infrastructure and provider side,
rather than the dynamic innovative content and e-commerce side.
I would like to read an excerpt from two letters from groups who are
opposed to this bill. The first is a coalition of 19 media, justice,
consumer protection, civil liberties, and privacy groups.
Their concern that: “Without these rules, ISPs could use and
disclose customer information at will. The result could be extensive
harm caused by breaches or misuse of data.”
They remind us that: “The FCC's order simply restores people's
control over their personal information and lets them choose the terms
on which ISPs can use it, share it, or sell it.”
Consumers should be in control of their own information.
The second letter is from Consumers Union, the policy arm of Consumer
Reports. They say, in part, that this bill “would strip consumers of
their privacy rights and . . . leave them with no protections at all.”
I include in the Record those two letters, Mr. Speaker.
January 27, 2017.
Hon. Paul Ryan,
Speaker of the House, House of Representatives, Washington,
Hon. Nancy Pelosi,
Minority Leader, House of Representatives, Washington, DC.
Hon. Mitch McConnell,
Senate Majority Leader, U.S. Senate, Washington, DC.
Hon. Charles Schumer,
Minority Leader, U.S. Senate,
Dear Speaker Ryan, Senator McConnell, Representative
Pelosi, and Senator Schumer: The undersigned media justice,
consumer protection, civil liberties, and privacy groups
strongly urge you to oppose the use of the Congressional
Review Act (CRA) to adopt a Resolution of Disapproval
overturning the FCC's broadband privacy order. That order
implements the mandates in Section 222 of the 1996
Telecommunications Act, which an overwhelming, bipartisan
majority of Congress enacted to protect telecommunications
users' privacy. The cable, telecom, wireless, and advertising
lobbies request for CRA intervention is just another industry
attempt to overturn rules that empower users and give them a
say in how their private information may be used.
Not satisfied with trying to appeal the rules of the
agency, industry lobbyists have asked Congress to punish
internet users by way of restraining the FCC, when all the
agency did was implement Congress' own directive in the 1996
Act. This irresponsible, scorched-earth tactic is as harmful
as it is hypocritical. If Congress were to take the industry
up on its request, a Resolution of Disapproval could exempt
internet service providers (ISPs) from any and all privacy
rules at the FCC. As you know, a successful CRA on the
privacy rules could preclude the FCC from promulgating any
“substantially similar” regulations in the future--in
direct conflict with Congress' clear intention in Section 222
that telecommunications carriers protect their customers'
privacy. It could also preclude the FCC from addressing any
of the other issues in the privacy order like requiring data
breach notification and from revisiting these issues as
technology continues to evolve in the future. The true
consequences of this revoked authority are apparent when
considering the ISPs' other efforts to undermine the rules.
Without these rules, ISPs could use and disclose customer
information at will. The result could be extensive harm
caused by breaches or misuse of data.
Broadband ISPs, by virtue of their position as gatekeepers
to everything on the internet, have a largely unencumbered
view into their customers' online communications. That
includes the websites they visit, the videos they watch, and
the messages they send. Even when that traffic is encrypted,
ISPs can gather vast troves of valuable information on their
users' habits; but researchers have shown that much of the
most sensitive information remains unencrypted.
The FCC's order simply restores people's control over their
personal information and lets them choose the terms on which
ISPs can use it, share it, or sell it. Americans are
increasingly concerned about their privacy, and in some cases
have begun to censor their online activity for fear their
personal information may be compromised. Consumers have
repeatedly expressed their desire for more privacy
protections and their belief that the government helps ensure
those protections are met. The FCC's rules give broadband
customers confidence that their privacy and choices will be
honored, but it does not in any way ban ISPs' ability to
market to users who opt-in to receive any such targeted
The ISPs' overreaction to the FCC's broadband privacy rules
has been remarkable. Their supposed concerns about the rule
are significantly overblown. Some broadband providers and
trade associations inaccurately suggest that this rule is a
full ban on data use and disclosure by ISPs, and from there
complain that it will hamstring ISPs' ability to compete with
other large advertising companies and platforms like Google
and Facebook. To the contrary, ISPs can and likely will
continue to be able to benefit from use and sharing of their
customers' data, so long as those customers consent to such
uses. The rules merely require the ISPs to obtain that
The ISPs and their trade associations already have several
petitions for reconsideration of the privacy rules before the
FCC. Their petitions argue that the FCC should either adopt a
“Federal Trade Commission style” approach to broadband
privacy, or that it should retreat from the field and its
statutory duty in favor of the Federal Trade Commission
itself. All of these suggestions are fatally flawed. Not only
is the FCC well positioned to continue in its statutorily
mandated role as the privacy watchdog for broadband telecom
customers, it is the only agency able to do so. As the 9th
Circuit recently decided in a case brought by AT&T, common
carriers are entirely exempt from FTC jurisdiction, meaning
that presently there is no privacy replacement for broadband
customers waiting at the FTC if Congress disapproves the
FCC's rules here.
This lays bare the true intent of these industry groups,
who also went to the FCC asking for fine-tuning and
reconsideration of the rules before they sent their CRA
request. These groups now ask Congress to create a vacuum and
to give ISPs carte blanche, with no privacy rules or
enforcement in place. Without clear rules of the road under
Section 222, broadband users will have no certainty about how
their private information can be used and no protection
against its abuse. ISPs could and would use and disclose
consumer information at will, leading to extensive harm
caused by breaches and by misuse of data properly belonging
Congress told the FCC in 1996 to ensure that
telecommunications carriers protect the information they
collect about their customers. Industry groups now ask
Congress to ignore the mandates in the Communications Act,
enacted with strong bipartisan support, and overturn the
FCC's attempts to implement Congress's word. The CRA is a
blunt instrument and it is inappropriate in this instance,
where rules clearly benefit internet users notwithstanding
ISPs' disagreement with them.
We strongly urge you to oppose any resolution of
disapproval that would overturn the FCC's broadband privacy
Access Now, American Civil Liberties Union, Broadband
Alliance of Mendocino County, Center for Democracy and
Technology, Center for Digital Democracy, Center for Media
Justice, Color of Change, Consumer Action, Consumer
Federation of America, Consumer Federation of California,
Consumer Watchdog, Consumer's Union, Free Press Action Fund,
May First/People Link, National Hispanic Media Coalition, New
America's Open Technology Institute, Online Trust Alliance,
Privacy Rights Clearing House, Public Knowledge.
March 27, 2017.
House of Representatives,
Dear Representative: Consumers Union, the policy and
mobilization arm of Consumer Reports, writes regarding House
consideration of S.J. Res. 34, approved by a 50-48 party line
vote in the Senate last week.
This resolution, if passed by the House and signed into law
by President, would use the Congressional Review Act (CRA) to
nullify the Federal Communication Commission's (FCC) newly-
enacted broadband privacy rules that give consumers better
control over their data. Many Senators cited “consumer
confusion” as a reason to do away with the FCC's privacy
rules, but we have seen no evidence proving this assertion
and fail to understand how taking away increased privacy
protections eliminates confusion. Therefore, we strongly
oppose passage of this resolution--it would strip consumers
of their privacy rights and, as we explain below, leave them
with no protections at all. We urge you to vote no on S.J.
The FCC made history last October when it adopted consumer-
friendly privacy rules that give consumers more control over
how their information is collected by internet service
providers (ISPs). Said another way, these rules permit
consumers to decide when an ISP can collect a treasure trove
of consumer information, whether it is a web browsing history
or the apps a consumer may have on a smartphone. We believe
the rules are simple, reasonable, and straightforward.
ISPs, by virtue of their position as gatekeepers to
everything on the internet, enjoy a unique window into
consumers' online activities. Data including websites
consumers visit, videos viewed, and messages sent is very
valuable. Small wonder, then, that ISPs are working so hard
to have the FCC's new privacy rules thrown out through use of
the Congressional Review Act. But we should make no mistake:
abandoning the FCC's new privacy rules is about what benefits
big cable companies and not about what is best for consumers.
Many argue the FCC should have the same privacy rules as
those of the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). FCC Chairman
Ajit Pai went so far as to say “jurisdiction over broadband
providers' privacy and data security practices should be
returned to the FTC, the nation's expert agency with respect
to these important subjects,” even though the FTC currently
possesses no jurisdiction over the vast majority of ISPs
thanks to the common carrier exemption--an exemption made
stricter by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in last year's
AT&T Mobility case. We have heard this flawed logic time and
time again as one of the principal arguments for getting rid
of the FCC's strong privacy rules. Unfortunately, this is
such a poor solution that it amounts to no solution at all.
For the FTC to regain jurisdiction over the privacy
practices of ISPs, the FCC would first have to scrap Title II
reclassification--not an easy task which would be both time-
consuming and subject to judicial review, and jeopardize the
legal grounding of the 2015 Open Internet Order. Congress, in
turn, would have to pass legislation to remove the common
carrier exemption, thus granting the FTC jurisdiction over
those ISPs who are common carriers. We are skeptical Congress
would take such an action. Finally, the FTC does not enjoy
the same robust rulemaking authority that the FCC does. As a
result, consumers would have to wait for something bad to
happen before the FTC would step in to remedy a violation of
privacy rights. Any fondness for the FTC's approach to
privacy is merely support for dramatically weaker privacy
protections favored by most corporations.
There is no question that consumers favor the FCC's current
broadband privacy rules. Consumers Union launched an online
petition drive last month in support of the Commission's
strong rules. To date, close to 50,000 consumers have signed
the petition and the number is growing. Last week, more than
24,000 consumers contacted their Senators urging them to
oppose the CRA resolution in the 24 hours leading up to the
vote. Consumers care about privacy and want the strong
privacy protections afforded to the them by the FCC. Any
removal or watering down of those rules would represent the
destruction of simple privacy protections for consumers.
Even worse, if this resolution is passed, using the
Congressional Review Act here will prevent the FCC from
adopting privacy rules--even weaker ones--to protect
consumers in the future. Under the CRA, once a rule is
erased, an agency cannot move forward with any
“substantially similar” rule unless Congress enacts new
legislation specifically authorizing it. Among other impacts,
this means a bare majority in the Senate can void a rule, but
then restoration of that rule is subject to full legislative
process, including a filibuster. The CRA is a blunt
instrument--and if used in this context, blatantly anti-
We are more than willing to work with you and your fellow
Representatives to craft privacy legislation that affords
consumer effective and easy-to-understand protections. The
FCC made a step in that direction when it adopted the
broadband privacy rules last year, and getting rid of them
via the Congressional Review Act is a step back, not forward.
Therefore, we encourage you to vote no on S.J. Res. 34.
Vice President, Consumer Policy & Mobilization, Consumer
Senior Policy Counsel, Consumers Union.
Policy Counsel, Consumers Union.
Mr. POLIS. I also include in the Record an op-ed that I had the
opportunity to publish last week on this topic. My piece is entitled
“Why Americans should be worried about their online broadband
privacy,” talking about this very bill that Congress has the tenacity
to try to bring to the floor under this rule to force the most personal
information pieces of information about every aspect of your internet
behavior, and that of your family members, to be given to the broadband
provider to do whatever they want with.
[From the Huffington Post, March 22, 2017]
Why Americans Should Be Worried About Their Online, Broadband Privacy
(By Jared Polis)
Over the last couple of months, the dialogue surrounding
government surveillance and consumer privacy has shifted in a
troubling direction. While news outlets are covering
everything from false claims of wiretaps to outlandish claims
of reconnaissance microwaves, Republicans are quietly taking
real and dramatic steps to protect corporate profits at the
cost of your privacy. A few weeks ago, Senator Jeff Flake (R-
Ariz.) and Representative Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) filed
bills in both the House of Representatives and the Senate
that, if passed, will permanently eliminate broadband users'
privacy protections, affecting nearly everyone who uses the
The legislation allows broadband providers to access and
sell consumers' information without their permission. As our
gateway to the Internet, Broadband Internet Service
Providers--commonly referred to as ISPs--have access to a
wealth of personal information, from our physical location to
our shopping habits and the medical issues we research--can
reveal potentially sensitive details about our personal
Every search, every website visited, every article read
online, see how often you log into and use your various
online accounts and even, in some cases, collect your
location. Think about what someone could conclude from this
information about you--your overall health, risk activity,
political affiliation, preferences. What could they do with
that information? Could they change pricing of goods and
services depending on your income and past purchasing
behaviors? Could you face challenges obtaining insurance due
to perceptions on your health or risk behavior based on your
search activity? This rule change will literally allow
broadband providers to have access to your entire personal
life on a network and sell it.
After years of advocating for further consumer protections,
in October 2016, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC)
took a responsible and commonsense step to establish
broadband privacy protections--but only months later
Republicans are trying to roll back the progress made and
repeal the existing rules, fighting alongside corporate
The legislation is unnecessary, as the FCC has already
taken steps to review the rules, pausing implementation to
conduct a careful examination of the complexities of
implementation. The Republican legislation, would stop this
process, bypass public comment, and eliminate the privacy
protections permanently and irrevocably.
That is why I am drawing attention to this critical issue,
before it's too late.
Mr. POLIS. Like these groups, I also believe that privacy is worth
defending. In the wrong hands, information can be damaging and used for
the wrong reasons.
Simply put, this bill is about conveying the value of the internet to
the infrastructure side rather than the content side. And rather than
finding common ground to establish reasonable ROI for broadband and
internet investments, this bill would hurt the entire internet
ecosystem by breaking down the trust between consumers and service
What they are really trying to do here is shift the reasonable burden
for cybersecurity measures from the internet servers onto consumers. At
same time, they want to eliminate the requirements of cybersecurity
measures, even notify consumers of violations, and they want to collect
more and more consumer data without any protections to do what they
Supporting this bill would make each and every user of the internet
vulnerable to violations of our privacy and vulnerable to cybersecurity
threats without even receiving notifications of when our own intimate
information, like credit card numbers, is compromised.
The FCC took a responsible, deliberate, and commonsense step to
establish broadband privacy protections in October 2016. If they need
to be tweaked or changed, let's have a process to do that. This bill is
not that process. It not only undoes those privacy protections but
prevents the FCC from ever issuing a rule that has those privacy
protections in it.
Mr. Speaker, if passed, this bill would be an irrevocable step in the
wrong direction. I urge my colleagues to vote “no” on this rule and
the underlying bill, and I yield back the balance of my time.
Mr. BURGESS. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself the remainder of my time.
I include in the Record an op-ed from The Wall Street Journal from
March 1, 2017, by Jeff Flake, a member of the other body. The title of
the op-ed is “Settling a Bureaucratic Turf War in Online Privacy
[From The Wall Street Journal, Mar. 1, 2017]
Settling a Bureaucratic Turf War in Online Privacy Rules
(By Jeff Flake)
When you shop online from your tablet or browse the
internet on your smartphones, you expect your personal data
to be secure. Technology companies invest billions of dollars
on data security to protect consumer privacy.
Privacy is also a cornerstone of consumer protection, with
federal enforcement agencies striking an appropriate balance
between innovation and security in their regulations. But
just as a flawed line of code can render a new firewall
program useless, the new privacy rules that were rushed
through in the waning days of the Obama administration risk
crashing our longstanding privacy-protection regime.
For two decades, the Federal Trade Commission has been
America's sole online privacy regulator. Under the FTC's
watch, our internet and data economy has been the envy of the
world. The agency's evidence-based approach calibrates
privacy and data-security requirements to the sensitivity of
information collected, used or shared online, and applies
protections in a consistent and evenhanded way across
business sectors. Consumer behavior demonstrates the success
of the FTC's regulatory approach: Each day people spend more
time engaging in online activities.
But in 2015, in a bid to expand its own power, the Federal
Communications Commission short-circuited the effectiveness
of the FTC's approach by reclassifying internet service
providers as common carriers, subject to Title II of the
In taking that unprecedented action, the FCC unilaterally
stripped the FTC of its traditional jurisdiction over ISPs.
The FTC can no longer police the privacy practices of
providers, leaving us with a two-track system under which the
FCC applies its own set of rules for ISPs while the FTC
monitors the rest of the internet ecosystem.
Even after the 2015 power grab, the FCC could have simply
adopted as its own the FTC's successful sensitivity-based
model of privacy regulation. Instead--after last year's
election--the FCC finalized privacy regulations that deviate
extensively from the FTC framework in several key respects.
The FCC rules subject all web browsing and app usage data
to the same restrictive requirements as sensitive personal
information. That means that information generated from
looking up the latest Cardinals score or checking the weather
in Scottsdale is treated the same as personal health and
The new rules also restrict an ISP's ability to inform
customers about innovative and cost-saving product offerings.
So much for consumer choice.
The FCC's overreach is a dangerous deviation from
successful regulation and common-sense industry practices.
But don't just take my word for it. The FTC concluded that
the FCC's decision to treat ISPs differently from the rest of
the internet ecosystem was “not optimal--agency-speak for
“a really bad idea.”
Outside of the FTC's well-founded concerns, the new rules
are also a departure from bipartisan agreement on the need
for consistent online privacy rules. President Obama noted in
2012 that “companies should present choices about data
sharing, collection, use, and disclosure that are appropriate
for the scale, scope, and sensitivity of personal data in
question at the time of collection.” In other words, privacy
rules should be based on the data itself.
But that's not how the FCC sees it. The commission's rules
suffocate industry and harm consumers by creating two
completely different sets of requirements for different parts
of the internet.
To protect consumers from these harmful new regulations, I
will soon introduce a resolution under the Congressional
Review Act to repeal the FCC's flawed privacy rules. While
the resolution would eliminate those rules, it would not
change the current statutory classification of broadband
service or bring ISPs back under FTC jurisdiction. Instead,
the resolution would scrap the FCC's newly imposed privacy
rules in the hope that it would follow the FTC's successful
This CRA resolution does nothing to change the privacy
protections consumers currently enjoy. I hope Congress and
the FCC will continue working together to address issues of
concern down the road. However, it is imperative for rule-
making entities to stay in their jurisdictional lanes. We
need to reject these harmful midnight privacy regulations
that serve only to empower bureaucrats and hurt consumers.
Mr. BURGESS. I want to read from a couple of the lines from this op-
ed. The Senator states here: “Privacy is also a cornerstone of
consumer protection, with Federal enforcement agencies striking an
appropriate balance between innovation and security in their
regulations. But just as a flawed line of code can render a new
firewall program useless, the new privacy rules that were rushed
through in the waning days of the Obama administration risk crashing
our longstanding privacy-protection regime.”
Continuing to quote here: “For two decades, the Federal Trade
Commission has been America's sole online privacy regulator. Under the
FTC's watch, our internet and data economy has been the envy of the
world. The agency's evidence-based approach calibrates privacy and
data-security requirements to the sensitivity of information collected,
used or shared online, and applies protections in a consistent and
evenhanded way across business sectors. Consumer behavior demonstrates
the success of the FTC's regulatory approach: Each day people spend
more time engaging in online activities.”
Now, continuing to quote here: “The FCC's overreach is a dangerous
deviation from successful regulation and commonsense industry
practices. But don't take my word for it. The FTC concluded that the
FCC's decision to treat ISPs differently from the rest of the internet
ecosystem was `not optimal'--agencyspeak for `a really bad idea.'”
One final quote from Senator Flake's op-ed: “This CRA resolution
does nothing to change the privacy protections consumers currently
enjoy. I hope Congress and the FCC will continue working together to
address issues of concern down the road. However, it is imperative for
rulemaking entities to stay in their jurisdictional lanes. We need to
reject these harmful midnight privacy regulations that serve only to
empower bureaucrats and hurt consumers.”
Mr. Speaker, today's rule provides for the consideration of a
critical Congressional Review Act resolution to repeal a duplicative
Federal regulation dropped on the doorstep of the American people in
the last hours of the previous administration. The rule the House will
be voting on today to repeal would create uncertainty and chaos
surrounding the protection of people's privacy online.
I want to thank Mrs. Blackburn of Tennessee, the chairwoman of the
Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Communication and Technology, for
her work on this critical issue.
I urge my colleagues to vote “yes” on the rule and vote “yes” on
the underlying resolution.
The material previously referred to by Mr. Polis is as follows:
An Amendment to H. Res. 230 Offered by Mr. Polis
At the end of the resolution, add the following new
Sec. 2. Immediately upon adoption of this resolution the
Speaker shall, pursuant to clause 2(b) of rule XVIII, declare
the House resolved into the Committee of the Whole House on
the state of the Union for consideration of the bill (H.R.
305) to amend the Ethics in Government Act of 1978 to require
the disclosure of certain tax returns by Presidents and
certain candidates for the office of the President, and for
other purposes. All points of order against consideration of
the bill are waived. General debate shall be confined to the
bill and shall not exceed one hour equally divided among and
controlled by the respective chairs and ranking minority
members of the Committees on Ways and Means and Oversight and
Government Reform. After general debate the bill shall be
considered for amendment under the five-minute rule. All
points of order against provisions in the bill are waived. At
the conclusion of consideration of the bill for amendment the
Committee shall rise and report the bill to the House with
such amendments as may have been adopted. The previous
question shall be considered as ordered on the bill and
amendments thereto to final passage without intervening
motion except one motion to recommit with or without
instructions. If the Committee of the Whole rises and reports
that it has come to no resolution on the bill, then on the
next legislative day the House shall, immediately after the
third daily order of business under clause 1 of rule XIV,
resolve into the Committee of the Whole for further
consideration of the bill.
Sec. 3. Clause 1(c) of rule XIX shall not apply to the
consideration of H.R. 305.
The Vote on the Previous Question: What It Really Means
This vote, the vote on whether to order the previous
question on a special rule, is not merely a procedural vote.
A vote against ordering the previous question is a vote
against the Republican majority agenda and a vote to allow
the Democratic minority to offer an alternative plan. It is a
vote about what the House should be debating.
Mr. Clarence Cannon's Precedents of the House of
Representatives (VI, 308-311), describes the vote on the
previous question on the rule as “a motion to direct or
control the consideration of the subject before the House
being made by the Member in charge.” To defeat the previous
question is to give the opposition a chance to decide the
subject before the House. Cannon cites the Speaker's ruling
of January 13, 1920, to the effect that “the refusal of the
House to sustain the demand for the previous question passes
the control of the resolution to the opposition” in order to
offer an amendment. On March 15, 1909, a member of the
majority party offered a rule resolution. The House defeated
the previous question and a member of the opposition rose to
a parliamentary inquiry, asking who was entitled to
recognition. Speaker Joseph G. Cannon (R-Illinois) said:
“The previous question having been refused, the gentleman
from New York, Mr. Fitzgerald, who had asked the gentleman to
yield to him for an amendment, is entitled to the first
The Republican majority may say “the vote on the previous
question is simply a vote on whether to proceed to an
immediate vote on adopting the resolution . . . [and] has no
substantive legislative or policy implications whatsoever.”
But that is not what they have always said. Listen to the
Republican Leadership Manual on the Legislative Process in
the United States House of Representatives, (6th edition,
page 135). Here's how the Republicans describe the previous
question vote in their own manual: “Although it is generally
not possible to amend the rule because the majority Member
controlling the time will not yield for the purpose of
offering an amendment, the same result may be achieved by
voting down the previous question on the rule. . . . When the
motion for the previous question is defeated, control of the
time passes to the Member who led the opposition to ordering
the previous question. That Member, because he then controls
the time, may offer an amendment to the rule, or yield for
the purpose of amendment.”
In Deschler's Procedure in the U.S. House of
Representatives, the subchapter titled “Amending Special
Rules” states: “a refusal to order the previous question on
such a rule [a special rule reported from the Committee on
Rules] opens the resolution to amendment and further
debate.” (Chapter 21, section 21.2) Section 21.3 continues:
“Upon rejection of the motion for the previous question on a
resolution reported from the Committee on Rules, control
shifts to the Member leading the opposition to the previous
question, who may offer a proper amendment or motion and who
controls the time for debate thereon.”
Clearly, the vote on the previous question on a rule does
have substantive policy implications. It is one of the only
available tools for those who oppose the Republican
majority's agenda and allows those with alternative views the
opportunity to offer an alternative plan.
Mr. BURGESS. Mr. Speaker, I yield back the balance of my time, and I
move the previous question on the resolution.
The SPEAKER pro tempore. The question is on ordering the previous
The question was taken; and the Speaker pro tempore announced that
the ayes appeared to have it.
Mr. POLIS. Mr. Speaker, on that I demand the yeas and nays.
The yeas and nays were ordered.
The SPEAKER pro tempore. Pursuant to clause 8 of rule XX, further
proceedings on this question will be postponed.