Last December, the US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) voted to scrap Net Neutrality, a decision which has faced a number of criticisms along the way. Now, in a last ditch effort to preserve online freedom, the US Senate has forced a full congressional vote that could restore Net Neutrality and render the FCC vote null.
33 Democratic senators, led by Sen. Ed Markey (D-MA) filed a discharge petition yesterday under the Congressional Review Act, shifting the decision from the FCC to a vote between the Senate which is expected to take place next week. Markey has stated that he hopes the decision will overturn the FCC’s decision to repeal Net Neutrality, however it only has until June 12th to push the bill.
To win the vote and undo FCC chairman Ajit Pai’s Republican-led decision, the resolution needs to hold a majority in both the Senate and the House, followed by President Trump’s signature. While the Democratic effort is facing stiff competition in Congress, it has already gained enough momentum to swing a vote with 50 senators backing the bill in total.
The 48 Democratic senators, along with Sen. Angus King (I-ME) and Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) are currently targeting Republicans like Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), Sen. John Kennedy (R-LA), and Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH) as a possible 51st vote.
“Our intent is to have it pass in the Senate, the momentum is building,” he said. “We expect there to be some considerable momentum coming out of the Senate and 160 will quickly grow towards the 218 that we need to have a vote over there as well.”
There has been mounting concern that even if the movement is successful, it could be blocked by President Trump if he chooses to veto the bill entirely. Markey states that it would result in a “political firestorm” if it manages to pass the Senate, House of Representatives and gain 86% favour among the electorate only to be denied.
Net Neutrality is still very much in favour among the public, which could sway the decisions of potential voters moving forward. At the very least, Markey and his supporters hope to gain a consensus of every member of Congress either in support or against the bill.
KitGuru Says: It seemed that all hope had been lost when the vote struck last December, but now it looks like Net Neutrality has a fighting chance. Unfortunately, the Senate is working under a tight time frame, with just 33 days left under the CRA, leaving the result as anyone’s guess.