Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, has been darkly warning about giving up U.S. oversight of internet names as of Oct. 1 – and he has been getting growing support for congressional action, even from Donald Trump.
But on Thursday Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., laid out a “clean CR,” a blueprint for a continuing resolution to fund the government from Oct. 1 through Dec. 9. It does not include a provision to delay the transfer.
“There have been broad requests for a clean continuing resolution,” said McConnell on the Senate floor. “So that’s what I’ve just offered. It’s the result of many, many hours of bipartisan work across the aisle.”
“It’s a fair proposal that funds all current government operations through Dec. 9,” he said, with additional funding for veterans and to fight the Zika virus by developing a vaccine and supporting mosquito control.
In response, Cruz said in a statement that he was “profoundly disappointed” that the bill did not postpone the transfer and said that the risk was that the loss of U.S. oversight would “hand over increased control of the Internet to authoritarian regimes like China, Russia, and Iran.”
The House has not yet finalized its version of a CR. “I encourage my colleagues in the House to continue to stand united to ensure that the government funding bill prevents the Obama administration from permanently undermining free speech on the internet,” said Cruz.
The Obama administration has set Oct. 1 for the transfer of U.S. control of the Internet Corp. for Assigned Names and Numbers, a private-sector, nonprofit group based in Los Angeles that administers internet domain names and designations.
To the federal government, it is a bookkeeping move that privatizes what the administration considers a technical organization. To Cruz and other critics it is ceding control of free speech to authoritarian countries like China, Russia and Iran who can censor the internet.
Sen. Majority Whip John Cornyn, R-Texas, had told Texas reporters Wednesday, “My hope is that the CR will include a delay of a transfer to the private sector.”
“We need some reassurance that we’re not going to do anything that’s going to cost a lot of harm,” said Cornyn, who supports a delay of the transfer from the U.S.
GOP nominee Trump’s campaign issued a statement Wednesday, as well, opposing the transfer.
"Donald J. Trump is committed to preserving internet freedom for the American people and citizens all over the world. The U.S. should not turn control of the internet over to the United Nations and the international community,” said Stephen Miller, Trump’s national policy director.
Cruz, who has not endorsed Trump, tweeted that he appreciated his former rival’s support.