Dear Mr. Moulitsas Zuniga:
In our recent letter, you asked me to publicly support strong net neutrality regulations. Let me be clear: I support net neutrality. You further asked that I tell the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to reclassify Internet service providers as common carriers under Title II of the Communications Act of 1934. Let me assure you that I will lead the fight to protect any Open Internet rules populated by the FCC against the inevitable Republican attack against such rules.
Since 2006, I have strongly and publicly supported net neutrality. I believe that the Internet is one of the great equalizers of our time. Especially in a time when dark money threatens to take over our political system, the Internet offers a forum for people to make a difference with ideas, not dollars. And I favor rules that will keep the Internet open and allow ideas and innovation to thrive. This is why in 2011 I led the Senate’s effort to defeat a Republican resolution that would have overturned the FCC’s Open Internet Order.
The Commission is now considering how to promulgate meaningful net neutrality rules in the wake of the D.C. Circuit Court’s opinion in Verizon v. Federal Communciations Commission. I am watching closely as the Commission drafts these rules. And I will work to ensure that these rules give consumers access to the lawful content they want when they want it, without interference and ensure that priority arrangements that harm consumers are prohibited.
I look forward to working with you to keep the Internet open, innovative, and free.
United States Senate
The legislation will be sponsored by Sens. Patty Murray (D-WA) and Mark Udall (D-CO). According to a summary reviewed by TPM, it prohibits employers from refusing to provide health services, including contraception, to their employees if required by federal law. It clarifies that the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, the basis for the Supreme Court’s ruling against the mandate, doesn’t permit businesses to opt out of laws they may object to.
The legislation also puts the kibosh on legal challenges by religious nonprofits, like Wheaton College, instead declaring that the accommodation they’re provided under the law is sufficient to respect their religious liberties. (It lets them pass the cost on to the insurer or third party administrator if they object.) Houses of worship are exempt from the mandate.
This bill will restore the original legal guarantee that women have access to contraceptive coverage through their employment-based insurance plans and will protect coverage of other health services from employer interference as well, according to the summary.
"The U.S. Supreme Court’s Hobby Lobby decision opened the door to unprecedented corporate intrusion into our private lives," Udall, who faces a tough battle for reelection in November, said in a statement to TPM. "My common-sense proposal will keep women’s private health decisions out of corporate board rooms, because your boss shouldn’t be able to dictate what is best for you and your family."
A Democratic Senate aide said Udall is committed to working with leadership to “bring this to the floor as quickly as possible.”
The Murray-Udall proposal stops short of amending RFRA — the 1993 law which says laws that substantially burden a person’s practice of religion must be narrowly tailored to meet a compelling governmental interest — as Democrats had considered doing.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) on Tuesday called the Supreme Court ruling on Hobby Lobby “outrageous” and promised to bring up the Democrats’ legislative response for a vote in the near future.