As anticipated, the House voted 244-181 late last Thursday to approve an amendment to the larger FY 2011 budget bill that would bar the FCC from using federal funds to implement net neutrality rules that were adopted by the agency in December. Greg Walden (R-OR), the chairman of the House Communications & Internet subcommittee, introduced the amendment with the backing of House Republicans who have criticized the net neutrality order as an encroachment on Internet freedom that has the potential to stifle broadband innovation and investment. GOP lawmakers also claim that the FCC exceeded its statutory authority in mandating Internet open access without obtaining the consent of Congress. Although the budget bill containing the Walden amendment was passed by the House last Saturday, observers predict that the budget legislation will encounter stiff opposition in the Democrat-controlled Senate, which is expected to commence debate on the measure at the end of this week’s President’s Day recess. Notwithstanding these uncertain prospects, House Republican leaders were vociferous in their support for FCC de-funding. Thanking GOP members of the House Appropriations Committee for their efforts in moving the amendment and the larger budget bill toward Saturday’s vote, House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-MI) joined Walden in boasting that, “together, we and our colleagues send a strong message to the FCC that they have overstepped their authority.” As Rep. Marsha Blackburn (RTN) cited FCC statistics showing that 90% of web users are satisfied with their Internet access, Rep. Cliff Stearns (R-FL) proclaimed that the Internet “does not need to be regulated by an unelected group of federal bureaucrats” whose rules “discourage investment and innovation.” Ranking House Commerce committee member Henry Waxman (D-CA), however, defended the net neutrality rules as “a bill of rights for Internet users” that “do not grant the government the power to ‘turn off the Internet’ and . . . do not determine what content is appropriate for users to access.”