Washington, D.C. (The Daily Caller) — Senators, almost all Democrats, voted 52 to 47 Wednesday for the reinstatement of “net neutrality” rules that were undone by the Federal Communications Commission in December 2017.
Democrats already seemed to have the votes to successfully restore the internet regulations, but Republican Sens. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and John Kennedy of Louisiana put it over the top. Murkowski voted against classifying the internet as a Title II utility rather than a Title I — the crux of the net neutrality argument — in 2009, but has changed her tune as evident by her vote.
After initially having to vote Wednesday to move forward for debate, which passed narrowly 52-47, Senate Democratic leaders were able to muster enough “ayes” to overturn the FCC’s more recent repeal of rules previously mandated under a different FCC makeup known as the Open Internet Order. That part of the legislative course was expected, however, the rest of the path forward for Massachusetts Democratic Sen. Edward Markey’s Congressional Review Act (CRA) resolution is inauspicious to say the least, as its prospects for survival in the House and the president’s desk is very unlikely.
The CRA is a legislative maneuver that allows for an official disapproval of a decision mandated by a federal agency with just a simple majority. Democrats (including two Independents) have been campaigning for one more Republican to join their fellow party member Sen. Susan Collins of Maine and the coalition to tip the scale to 51 of the 100 Senators required. Despite the lack of any concessions, they didn’t need 51 because of Republican Sen. John McCain of Arizona’s absence, leading some to believe they may have taken advantage of the veteran lawmaker’s poor health.
Proponents of the CRA resolution say the 2015 rules are necessary for ensuring that broadband companies don’t throttle or block internet access, nor splice such services into different tiers of payment.
“The internet should be kept free and open like our highways, accessible and affordable to every American, regardless of ability to pay,” said Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer in a statement, echoing recent statements made on the floor. “The repeal of net neutrality is not only a blow to the average consumer, but it is a blow to public schools, rural Americans, communities of color and small businesses.”
Despite such assertions, Democrats also know that regardless of the probability that Markey’s bill won’t go any further, it’s key for galvanizing voters ahead of the 2018 midterm and 2020 elections — especially since it’s a debate that has grown into hysterical proportions. Democratic Sen. Brian Schatz of Hawaii has said as much, stating that “it’s really important for those of us who care about net neutrality to mobilize for 2018.”
Petitioning the FCC and educating “friends via social media” is also important, “but in a representative democracy, the way to get policy changes is through elections,” the legislator continued.
Schumer used his political stature to do so once again during the opening remarks of the deliberation.
“I would urge Americans, average Americans, young people, old people, everyone in between, small businesses, e-mail, call, write, visit your senator on the Republican side and urge them to preserve net neutrality,” Schumer appealed. “It’s only right. It’s only fair, and it makes economic sense.”