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FCC evacuates net neutrality vote after bomb threats

Illustration by Alex Castro / The Verge

In a shocking moment right before its vote on a rollback of net neutrality rules, a security team abruptly evacuated the FCC’s high-profile hearing.

"On advice of security, we need to take a brief recess,” Chairman Ajit Pai told the room, as a live feed of the hearing cut out. Security told everyone in the room to exit, and to leave their belongings behind.

A stream from The Washington Post showed the security team scanning the room, as dogs were brought in for a search.

The Washington Post

In a statement released in the evening, a Homeland Security spokesperson said the decision was made to leave the room after a bomb threat was phoned in to the FCC.

"At approximately 12:35 p.m. today, a call was received by the FCC stating that two explosive devices were in the building and set to detonate in 30 minutes,” the statement from Homeland Security reads. “The unknown caller stated that there was a device in the hearing room, and the other was at another location. The FCC was notified and the decision was made to have everyone leave the hearing room out of an utmost of caution.”

Reporters present said they were ushered into a hallway outside the meeting room. The FCC commissioners were reportedly escorted out through a back door.

After a few minutes, security returned everyone to the room.

“Sorry for the interruption,” Pai said. “We were acting on the recommendation of the Federal Protective Service. But we can now reconvene.”

“Where was I?” he said, catching his breath and returning to his speech.

After continuing with his statement, Pai called the vote as planned. As expected, the proposal passed on a 3–2 vote along party lines.