Senate Votes to Preserve Net Neutrality, House Next Obstacle
The battle to save net neutrality continues. Wednesday afternoon the Senate voted to allow debate on reversing the FCC’s decision to repeal net neutrality protections. The vote passed with a 52 – 47 split, with all Democrats and three Republicans voting in favor of preserving net neutrality.
BREAKING: We did it! The Senate just voted to protect #NetNeutrality.
— ACLU (@ACLU) May 16, 2018
The actual vote wasn’t to pass legislation regarding net neutrality but was an enactment of Congress’ authority to reject regulations passed within the last 60 legislative days. Legislative days are counted as days when Congress is actually in session. The Congressional Review Act, signed into law in 1996 by Bill Clinton, grants Congress this power to review new federal regulations and to overrule them with a simple majority.
Prior to 2017 and the Donald Trump Presidency, the Congressional Review Act (CRA) was only invoked once; to review an Occupational Safety and Health Administration regulation.
Under the Trump administration, the CRA was invoked 15 times in an effort to repeal Obama era policies. Fourteen of the 15 attempts passed. The fifteenth resolution passed in the House but failed in the Senate.
Now, Democrats are using the CRA in a fight to preserve net neutrality protections put into place by Obama but the FCC, under new chairman Ajit Pai, is attempting to strike down. All 49 Senate Democrats voted in favor of the CRA to allow for debate of the FCC’s decision to remove net neutrality protections. The three Senate Republicans who joined Democrats in the vote were Sens. Susan Collins (ME), Lisa Murkowski (AK), and John Kennedy (LA).
Supporters of net neutrality, argue that removing the Obama era protections will mean the end of a free and open internet. They argue internet service providers will be able to throttle or slow down chosen sites and charge more for specific websites.
The vote moves to the Republican lead House of Representatives where many feel it will face a tougher challenge. The FCC’s repeal of net neutrality protections is scheduled to take place on June 11th, adding to the urgency of the situation.