WASHINGTON -- Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) indicated on Tuesday he's unlikely to support Republican legislation on net neutrality as Americans from both parties embrace an "open and robust" Internet.
"If somebody wants to show me a better way to keep the Internet open and free, I'm willing to have an open mind about it, but I just don't see a pathway there but through Title II," Booker told reporters, referring to net neutrality advocates' proposal to declare broadband Internet service a public utility subject to regulation.
So-called Title II regulation, backed by President Barack Obama, is a point of contention in the net neutrality debate. Republicans have released draft legislation that will be debated in House and Senate hearings on Wednesday that makes concessions to net neutrality advocates, but stops the Federal Communications Commission from classifying consumer broadband Internet service as a utility under Title II of the Telecommunications Act. Declaring Internet service a utility would expand FCC authority to enforce net neutrality principles, ensuring that Internet service providers cannot charge for better Internet access.
Booker acknowledged that Republicans are moving on this issue, and even those on the right are saying, "Let's not give monopolistic power over the huge cable providers. Let's create an Internet that's free and open."
He added that it will be "interesting" to see how Senate Commerce Committee Chairman John Thune (R-S.D.) comes down on net neutrality, because "clearly right and left the American public wants an open and robust Internet."
A nationwide poll released Wednesday by Vox Populi Polling, a firm launched by Republicans, found in a survey of 868 active voters that 81 percent of Republicans agreed that the Internet should remain open.
Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.) told HuffPost that she expected Democrats wouldn't support the Republican bill. But she added you should "never say never."
"I do think the president's been very firm and I'm glad he has and he's taken the right side on that," Lofgren said.