Senate votes to overturn FCC, reinstate net neutrality

Randal Sanchez
May 17, 2018

"Everyone who's done so knows that killing net neutrality is bad for society - not just because it harms tech innovation, but because it compromises our civil rights", wrote Anil Dash, who served as a technology adviser in the Obama administration, in a tweet before the FCC's vote. However, Democrats were able to garner sufficient support to force a vote on the resolution in the Senate.

"This is our chance, our best chance, to make sure the internet stays accessible and affordable for all Americans", he said as the debate began. That's a more hard ask, since Democrats only hold 193 seats there.

Kennedy, whose vote was closely watched as one of the few Republicans siding with Democrats on the issue, said he was ultimately persuaded to vote yes because more than 1 in 5 Louisianans lack choice in their broadband provider. "Last year, under the leadership of Chairman Ajit Pai, the FCC sought to rectify this mistake and restore the rules that helped the Internet flourish, while still protecting consumers from abuses".

In recent months, Republicans have used the tools made available in the Congressional Review Act to overturn several environmental, health and safety rules put into place in the final months of the Obama administration. "Contact your Republican senator", Sen.

Collins announced her support in January, but Kennedy and Murkowski had been undecided.

Regardless of the unlikelihood of this truly re-enacting internet neutrality guidelines, Democrats will hail it as a victory.

If you were a bit cynical about the US Senate's vote to save net neutrality today, we can't really blame you. The measure can not be filibustered in the Senate. The latest version of the agency's rules, from 2015, barred internet service providers from blocking, slowing, or giving preferential treatment to particular online sites or services. Telecommunications companies oppose the regulations.

This probably won't reverse the FCC's net neutrality rollback.

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On Wednesday, in a 52-47 vote, 49 Democrats and Republicans Sen. Ed Markey, D-Mass., the leader of the Senate effort.

After the Senate vote, Pai called the outcome "disappointing", but said he was confident the resolution would fail in the House.

A path forward for the resolution in the House is unclear.

"Let me tell you a secret: When it comes to politics, the experts are nearly always wrong", he added. "This resolution takes us in the wrong direction, and we should reject it".

In a floor speech given last week, Senator Charles Schumer announced the objective of the CRA was to permit the FCC to use Title II to regulate the retail prices of broadband service. Hopefully it, too, will hear the strong voice of the American people demanding an open internet and saying "No!" to the telecom and cable monopolies.

At some point, however, there does need to be a legislative solution to what has become an unnecessary partisan impasse on an issue of critical national importance. The action is mostly symbolic, as the direct challenge must receive a similar vote in the House of Representatives, not to mention approval from the President.

This issue doesn't cut along clean party lines, said Steven Kull, who runs the Program for Public Consultation at the University of Maryland and has studied public attitudes on net neutrality.

Rep. Tom McClintock, R-Calif., was among the Republicans who voted with Democrats on the privacy regulations.

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