House Passes Temporary Net Tax Ban

The House of Representatives overwhelmingly approved a four-year extension to a ban on net access taxes, however Republicans complained that Democrats blocked attempts to make it permanent.

Democratic leaders in the House used a procedural tool that prevented amendments to a bill continuing the ban. Supporters of a permanent ban had hoped to add an amendment that would have settled the argument once and for all.

Nevertheless, the bill as it stood passed 405-2 on Tuesday. If the bill passes the, the new expiration of the tax ban would be November 1, 2011. It is expected to be signed once it arrives on President Bush's desk.

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Supporters of the temporary ban say that it took into account the wishes of the ISP industry, which was looking for the permanent ban, and state and local governments, which wanted the opportunity to revisit the possibility of a "periodic tax" in the future.

However, Republicans headed by Rep. Lamar Smith of Texas complained that Democrats blocked a passable permanent ban from being considered. An alternative measure proposed by Rep. Anna Eshoo of California's Silicon Valley was stalled.

The bill had some 240 co-sponsors from both parties, which Eshoo mentioned on the House floor before the Democratic-backed measure was put up for a vote. Eshoo ended up voting against the measure, although Zoe Lofgren, a Democrat from Silicon Valley who had previously voted against attempts to pass a temporary ban, voted for it.

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