I RISE TODAY TO JOIN WITH THE SENATOR FROM VERMONT IN OPPOSITION TO THE F.C.C.'S PLANNED VOTE TO END NET NEUTRALITY PROTECTIONS. TOMORROW, AS HE NOTED, THE F.C.C. WILL HOLD A VOTE ON THEIR PLAN TO ELIMINATE NET NEUTRALITY ON CHAIRMAN PAI'S PLAN. THESE RULES HAVE KEPT THE INTERNET FREE AND OPEN. AND IN A DAY WHERE A LOT OF THINGS AREN'T WORKING, THIS WAS SOMETHING THAT WAS ACTUALLY WORKING. PEOPLE WERE ABLE TO ACCESS THE INTERNET. PEOPLE IN MY STATE THAT MAYBE DIDN'T HAVE A LOT OF RESOURCES, KIDS WERE ABLE TO ACCESS THE INTERNET TO DO THEIR HOMEWORK.

IT WAS WORKING. BUT IF THE F.C.C. VOTES TO ABANDON NET NEUTRALITY, IT WILL PUT INTERNET SERVICE PROVIDERS, NOT CONSUMERS, IN CHARGE OF DETERMINING THE FUTURE OF THE INTERNET. NET NEUTRALITY HOLDS INTERNET SERVICE PROVIDERS BIG, MEGA INTERNET SERVICE PROVIDERS ACCOUNTABLE FOR PROVIDING THE INTERNET ACCESS CONSUMERS EXPECT WHILE PROTECTING INNOVATION AND COMPETITION. IT IS THE BEDROCK OF A FAST, FREE, AND OPEN INTERNET. NET NEUTRALITY HAS ALLOWED THE INTERNET TO BECOME ONE OF THE GREAT AMERICAN SUCCESS STORIES, TRANSFORMING NOT ONLY HOW WE COMMUNICATE WITH OUR FRIENDS AND OUR FAMILY BUT THE WAY WE DO BUSINESS, HOW CONSUMERS BUY GOODS, HOW WE EDUCATE OUR KIDS.

THESE PROTECTIONS HAVE WORKED. WE HAVE RURAL KIDS THAT COULDN'T ACCESS CLASSES BEFORE WHO ARE ABLE TO GET THESE CLASSES ON THE INTERNET. WE HAVE SMALL BUSINESSES THAT ARE ABLE TO ADVERTISE THEIR SERVICES IN A WAY THAT NO ONE WOULD HAVE KNOWN THAT THEY EXISTED. ONE OF MY FAVORITE ONES IS A COMPANY CALLED WEAVE' GOT MAIL -- WERVE' -- WE'VE GOT MAIL. THEY DO JEWELRY. IT'S ABOUT TEN OR 15 EMPLOYEES STARTING WITH ONE CHAIN AND THEY CAME UP WITH A COOL NICKNAME. THEN THEY WERE ABLE TO ADVERTISE ON THE INTERNET DIRECTLY TO CONSUMERS AND NOW THEY'RE ONE OF THE BIGGEST EMPLOYERS IN THE TOWN RIGHT ON THE CANADIAN BORDER.

THESE INTERNET PROTECTIONS THAT HAVE ALLOWED SMALL BUSINESSES TO BLOSSOM HAVE ALLOWED CONSUMERS TO ACCESS THE INTERNET LIKE EVERYONE ELSE. THEY'VE WORKED. BUT WITH THE F.C.C.'S VOTE TOMORROW, THE INTERNET MAY SOON BE CHANGING. EARLIER THIS YEAR WHEN CHAIRMAN PAI ANNOUNCED HIS PROPOSAL TO ELIMINATE NET NEUTRALITY PROTECTIONS, AMERICANS TOOK THE OPPORTUNITY TO MAKE THEIR VOICES HEARD DURING THE PUBLIC COMMENT PERIOD AND THE PROPOSAL RECEIVED A RECORD 23 MILLION COMMENTS. WHILE MANY OF THESE COMMENTS WERE WRITTEN BY CONSUMERS WORRIED ABOUT THE FUTURE OF THE INTERNET, THERE IS REASON TO BE CONCERNED ABOUT THAT PROCESS. APPROXIMATELY ONE MILLION FRAUDULENT COMMENTS WERE FILED WITH THE F.C.C. AND AN ADDITIONAL HALF A MILLION COMMENTS WERE FILED WITH RUSSIAN E-MAIL ADDRESSES. SOUND FAMILIAR? I THINK SO. I THINK EVERYONE IN THIS CHAMBER KNOWS THAT RUSSIA HAS BEEN TRYING TO INFLUENCE OUR DEMOCRACY IN EVERY WAY THEY CAN FROM HACKING TO PUTTING OUT PROPAGANDA TO NOW TRYING TO INSERT ITSELF IN A COMMENT PROCESS FOR OUR FREE AND OPEN INTERNET, SOMETHING THAT HAS BEEN THE HALLMARK OF AMERICAN SOCIETY, SOMETHING THAT THEY DON'T HAVE IN RUSSIA. JUST THINK AN ADDITIONAL HALF A MILLION COMMENTS WERE FILED FROM RUSSIAN E-MAIL ADDRESSES. THIS IS TROUBLING BECAUSE IN AMERICA THE PUBLIC COMMENT PROCESS MATTERS. IT WAS -- IT IS ONE OF THE FEW OPPORTUNITIES AMERICANS HAVE TO WEIGH IN DIRECTLY WITH THE F.C.C.

THAT IS WHY I JOINED SEVERAL OF MY COLLEAGUES IN CALLING ON CHAIRMAN PAI TO DELAY THE VOTE UNTIL THE F.C.C. FULLY INVESTIGATED THESE FAKE AND FOREIGN COMMENTS. DESPITE OUR CALLS, THE F.C.C. IS STILL MOVING AHEAD WITH ITS VOTE. DESPITE 23 MILLION COMMENTS, THEY ARE STILL MOVING AHEAD WITH THEIR VOTE. UNDER CHAIRMAN PAI'S PLAN, THE F.C.C. GIVES INTERNET SERVICE PROVIDERS THE ABILITY TO SIGNIFICANTLY CHANGE CONSUMERS' EXPERIENCE ONLINE. INTERNET SERVICE PROVIDERS MAY SOON BE ABLE TO BLOCK, SLOW, AND PRIORITIZE WEB TRAFFIC FOR THEIR OWN FINANCIAL GAIN, NOT FOR THE AVERAGE CITIZEN'S GAIN, FOR THEIR GAME. THIS MEANS THAT INTERNET SF PROVIDE -- SERVICE PROVIDERS COULD BEGIN SORTING ONLINE TRAFFIC INTO FAST OR SLOW LANES AND CHARGING CONSUMERS EXTRA FOR HIGH-PEED BROADBAND. THEY WOULD -- HIGH-SPEED BROADBAND. THEY WOULD ALSO BE ABLE TO SLOW CONSUMERSES' CONNECTIONS ONCE THEY HIT A CERTAIN DATA LINE. INTERNET SERVICE PROVIDERS MAY EVEN BLOCK CONTENT THEY DON'T WANT THEIR SUBSCRIBERS TO ACCESS. SO MUCH FOR AN OPEN INTERNET. THE ONLY PROTECTIONS MAINTAINED UNDER THE PROPOSED ORDER ARE REQUIREMENTS FOR SERVICE PROVIDERS TO DISCLOSE THEIR INTERNET TRAFFIC POLICIES.

HOWEVER, FOR CONSUMERS WITH ONLY ONE CHOICE FOR INTERNET SERVICE, LIKE MANY IN MY STATE, LIKE MANY IN RURAL AREAS, THERE IS NO REAL OPPORTUNITY TO COMPARISON SHOP OR FIND A NEW PROVIDER IF THEY ARE UNHAPPY WITH THEIR SERVICE. THIS MEANS THAT EVEN THOUGH CONSUMERS MAY BE AWARE THAT THEIR INTERNET SERVICE PROVIDER IS BLOCKING OR SLOWING THEIR CONNECTION, THEY ACTUALLY DON'T HAVE A CHOICE. SO WHAT DOES THAT INFORMATION MATTER TO THEM ANYWAY? THIS PROPOSAL WILL HARM CONSUMERS, PARTICULARLY IN RURAL AREAS. IT WILL LIMIT COMPETITION, AND IT WILL HURT SMALL BUSINESS ENTREPRENEURSHIP AND INNOVATION. WHAT I'VE SEEN AROUND THIS PLACE IS EVERYONE IS TALKING ABOUT RURAL BROADBAND. THEY WANT TO EXPAND BROADBAND. I WANT TO EXPAND BROADBAND. YOU CAN EXPAND BROADBAND ALL YOU WANT, BUT IT'S NOT GOING TO MATTER IF PEOPLE AREN'T ABLE TO AFFORD TO ACCESS IT. A TRULY OPEN INTERNET ENCOURAGES ECONOMIC GROWTH AND PROVIDES OPPORTUNITIES FOR BUSINESS, TO REACH NEW MARKETS -- BUSINESSES TO REACH NEW MARKETS, DRIVE INNOVATION AND CREATE JOBS. SMALL BUSINESSES REMAIN ENGINES OF JOB CREATION AND NET NEUTRALITY LEVELS THE PLAYING FIELD ALLOWING THE SMALL COMPANIES TO COMPETE WITH MORE ESTABLISHED BRANDS.

THAT'S WHAT AMERICA IS ABOUT, ALLOWING MORE INNOVATION AND SMALL COMPANIES TO COME UP AND COMPETE. UNFORTUNATELY, FOR SMALL BUSINESSES AND START-UPS ACROSS THE COUNTRY, THE NET NEUTRALITY REPEAL MAY MEAN NEW BARRIERS WHEN COMPETING ONLINE. WITHOUT UNRESTRICTED ACCESS TO THE INTERNET, ENTREPRENEURS MAY BE FORCED TO PAY FOR EQUAL FOOTING TO COMPETE ONLINE RATHER THAN FOCUS ON EXPANDING THEIR BUSINESS. SMALL BUSINESSES UNABLE TO PAY FOR ACCESS TO FASTER INTERNET SERVICE MAY SOON FIND THEMSELVES STRUGGLING TO COMPETE FROM THE SLOW LANE, NOT THE FAST LANE. THIS PROPOSAL WILL HURT THE VERY PEOPLE CREATING JOBS AND KEEPING OUR ECONOMY COMPETITIVE. AS A STRONG SUPPORTER OF A FREE AND OPEN INTERNET, IT IS CLEAR THAT REPEALING NET NEUTRALITY IS A STEP IN THE WRONG DIRECTION. WE ARE FACING AN INCREASINGLY GLOBAL AND INTERCONNECTED ECONOMY, AND IT IS CRITICAL THAT THE INTERNET REMAIN A HUB OF ENTREPRENEURSHIP, CREATIVITY, AND FAIR COMPETITION. THE FIGHT TO PROTECTION NET NEUTRALITY IS FAR FROM OVER AND WE NEED TO KEEP THE PRESSURE ON. WE HAVE SEEN MERGER AFTER MERGER AFTER MERGER. WE HAVE SEEN CONSOLE DATED BUSINESSES, BIGGER AND BIGGER AND BIGGER.

SO NOW WHAT IS THE NEXT STEP HERE? TO LIMIT NET NEUTRALITY, TO MAKE IT HARDER FOR THE SMALL GUYS, FOR THE ONES THAT ARE TRYING TO GET IN THE MARKET TO COMPETE. IT IS NOT JUST AN ISOLATED PHILOSOPHY HERE. IT IS ACTUALLY PART OF A LARGER PHILOSOPHY WHICH MEANS THAT SMALLER COMPANIES, THAT INDIVIDUALS ARE GOING TO HAVE A HARD TIME GETTING IN THE MARKET AND GETTING FREE ACCESS LIKE THE BIG GUYS. THAT IS WHY WE ASKED CHAIRMAN PAI TO RECONSIDER THIS VOTE ON THURSDAY AND TO COME UP WITH A NEW POLICY THAT DOESN'T HURT THE PEOPLE OF AMERICA. IT IS NO SURPRISE TODAY THAT POLL THAT I SAW THAT IT SAID THE VAST MAJORITY OF AMERICANS DON'T FAVOR GETTING RID OF NET NEUTRALITY. IN FACT, IT SHOWED THE VAST MAJORITY OF REPUBLICANS DON'T FAVOR GETTING RID OF NET NEUTRALITY. SO WE ASKED CHAIRMAN PAI WHO WAS APPOINTED BY A REPUBLICAN PRESIDENT AS CHAIRMAN TO RECONSIDER THIS DECISION. THANK YOU, MR. PRESIDENT. I YIELD THE FLOOR.