Despite all the hooha about ‘net neutrality’ rules launched by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) just before Christmas, the U.S. House of Representatives on Friday not only voted against them but also brought into question the FCC’s ability to regulate how Internet service providers manage their networks in future.

The vote of 240 to 179 was mainly along party lines with Republicans taking a stand against the Obama administration’s favor of the legislation. The resolution specifically condemns the FCC’s new net neutrality rules and “prohibits such rule from having any force or effect.” Republicans in the House maintained that the order exceeded the FCC’s authority and put the government in the position of overseeing what content a consumer could see and which companies would benefit from Internet access.

However, the matter is far from over as the joint resolution, blocking the FCC, still has to pass the Senate and be signed by President Obama before it becomes a law. That is unlikely to happen in the Democrat-controlled Senate, and President Obama has threatened to veto the measure if it ever reaches his desk. If it does get this stage it would then take a vote by two-thirds of each house of Congress to override the veto.

What is interesting is the emotive arguments raised by each side during and after the debate. The New York Times quotes representative Henry A. Waxman, a California Democrat, warning of dire consequences should the blocking resolution be approved, “This is a bill that will end the Internet as we know it and threaten the jobs, investment and prosperity that the Internet has brought to America.” Representative Lee Terry, a Nebraska Republican, said during the debate that supporters of the FCC’s order wanted “to give the FCC power over business plans,” by restricting the ability of broadband service companies to offer tiered service, for which customers pay based on the amount of Internet bandwidth they use.

The New York Times also reported that during the debate on Friday, each side accused the other of safeguarding the interests of big companies. Democrats said that Republicans were protecting the interests of the cable and phone company giants that are the dominant providers of broadband Internet service to American households. Those companies generally oppose the FCC order, because they believe they need to be able to direct traffic on their networks as they see fit.

Republicans countered by accusing Democrats of protecting big technology companies, like Google, Amazon and Netflix, that have become successful because of the lack of Internet regulation but which now want to protect their turf from new competitors. In a strange twist, each side also accused the other of adopting the position of totalitarian regimes such as Iran and China by favoring limitations on Internet sites that people can view.

Highly emotive stuff indeed. You would think that US legislators had more important things to worry about these day. Whatever transpires over the coming weeks it is certain that ‘net neutrality’ will not come to fruition without a fight. Even if the Obama administration succeeds it will still face court challenges from aggrieved CSPs feeling threatened by more regulation.

The rest of the world will be watching, but hardly rushing to follow suit.