The U.S. House of Representatives definitively rejected the concept of Net neutrality on Thursday, dealing a bitter blow to Internet companies like Amazon.com, eBay and Google that had engaged in a last-minute lobbying campaign to support it.

By a 269-152 vote that fell largely along party lines, the House Republican leadership mustered enough votes to reject a Democrat-backed amendment that would have enshrined stiff Net neutrality regulations into federal law and prevented broadband providers from treating some Internet sites differently from others.

Of the 421 House members who participated in the vote that took place around 6:30 p.m. PT, the vast majority of Net neutrality supporters were Democrats. Republicans represented most of the opposition.

The vote on the amendment (click for PDF) came after nearly a full day of debate on the topic, which prominent Democrats predicted would come to represent a turning point in the history of the Internet.

"The future Sergey Brins, the future Marc Andreessens, of Netscape and Google...are going to have to pay taxes" to broadband providers, said Rep. Ed Markey, the Massachusetts Democrat behind the Net neutrality amendment. This vote will change "the Internet for the rest of eternity," he warned.

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