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One Vote Needed for Resolution to Reinstate Net Neutrality, Democrats Say

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, center, with (from left) Sens. Amy Klobuchar, Jeanne Shaheen, Benjamin L. Cardin and Senate Minority Whip Richard J. Durbin in November 2017. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

This week, congressional Democrats announced an update in the fight to save net neutrality after the Federal Communications Commission voted to repeal broadband industry regulations in December 2017. Fifty senators—49 Democrats and one Republican—have now endorsed a legislative measure to override the FCC decision. This means Democrats need one more Republican vote to pass a Senate resolution of disapproval, aimed at restoring net neutrality rules.

The December vote, led by Republican FCC Chairman Ajit Pai, eliminated FCC rules that had banned internet providers from blocking or slowing down websites. Many Republicans believed the rules were too restrictive for businesses, while Democrats argued they provided much-needed protection for consumers. The current resolution from the Democrats aims to overturn the FCC’s decision to repeal net neutrality and prohibit it from passing these kinds of repeals in the future, The Washington Post reports.

The paper continues:

To pass the Senate, backers of the resolution must recruit one more Republican member to their ranks. The measure must survive the Republican-majority House and be signed by President Trump to take effect.

After an independent agency makes a decision — such as the FCC’s net neutrality deregulation — federal lawmakers have a window of 60 legislative days to reverse the move under the Congressional Review Act. As of last Tuesday, 40 senators had signed on to the resolution to challenge the FCC under the act. Since then, 10 more have joined the effort.

Democrats have said they plan to make net neutrality a midterm campaign issue, forcing vulnerable GOP candidates to stand with their party and adopt a position that, according to some surveys, is at odds with that of the broader public.

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer told the paper: “With full caucus support, it’s clear that Democrats are committed to fighting to keep the Internet from becoming the Wild West where ISPs are free to offer premium service to only the wealthiest customers while average consumers are left with far inferior options.”

Opposition to the repeal of net neutrality rules has risen over the past few months. Truthdig’s Emma Niles elaborates:

Even Pai’s colleagues have spoken against his plan to repeal net neutrality. In an op-ed in the Los Angeles Times published earlier this month, FCC Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel begged the public to “stop [the FCC] from killing net neutrality,” calling Pai’s plan “a lousy idea.”

FCC commissioner Mignon Clyburn offered an alternative proposal to her colleagues Tuesday (and continues, on her Twitter account, to support net neutrality and question Pai’s motives).

The very inventors of the internet are against Pai’s plan. Twenty pioneers, from World Wide Web inventor Tim Berners-Lee to Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak, signed an open letter urging Pai to cancel Thursday’s vote (which resulted in the repeal of FCC rules).

The Washington Post reports that Pai has canceled at least two public appearances since the repeal, after which he told Fox News that protesters had placed “harassing” signs near his home aimed at his children.



Emily Wells
​Emily Wells is an Ear to the Ground blogger at Truthdig. As a journalist, she began as a crime reporter at the Pulitzer-winning daily newspaper, The Press-Enterprise...
Emily Wells

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