Senators vote to begin debate on repealing changes to net neutrality rules

Yolanda Curtis
May 16, 2018

The congressional effort comes less than a month before the rules are officially expected to expire, on June 11.

Democrats in the Senate could prevail in a vote as they have at least 50 votes with all of their party on board, plus Sen. Susan Collins of ME, is expected to pass the full Senate later Wednesday and then be sent to the GOP-led House, where it'll likely go nowhere - and President Donald Trump is unlikely to back it.

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer spoke after the vote, arguing that "at stake is the future of the Internet". Stonyfield has been outspoken about the negative impact that repealing net neutrality protections would have on rural businesses, including the farms and cooperatives that supply products to Stonyfield.

Although most legislation requires 60 Senators to vote to end debate on a bill before it can receive an up-or-down majority vote, resolutions under the Congressional Review Act resolutions cannot be filibustered, meaning only 51 votes are required for passage in the Senate. Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., has said lawmakers in that chamber are focused on designing their own legislation to "permanently address this issue", casting doubt on whether the Senate resolution can advance.

As for the possibility of the CRA reaching Trump's desk, Markey said last week during a press conference that the "political firestorm" that would be created by killing an effort to save net neutrality could push the president into signing it.

"Today, we show the American people who sides with them, and who sides with the powerful special interests and corporate donors who are thriving under this administration", said Sen. -Evan Greer, Fight for the FutureThe FCC's decision was welcomed by internet service providers (ISPs) like Comcast and Verizon, which without net neutrality in place would be able to throttle traffic in order to charge content producers and web users for premium access or services. "This is the way things were prior to 2015, and how they will be once again".

The FCC's new regulation, effectively eliminating net neutrality as the internet's governing policy, has still not taken effect, providing Democrats this narrow opening.

The agency's two Democrats at the time, Mignon Clyburn and Jessica Rosenworcel, voted to keep the rules on the books. "Are you on the side of large internet companies, or are you on the side of American families?" In surveys, solid majorities say they support the principle of net neutrality generally, and the FCC's rules in particular. "Let's treat the internet like the public good that it is". The GOP has been urging Democrats to come to the negotiating table to work out a legislative replacement to the FCC rules, a move that is also backed by the broadband industry. Shortly after the FCC's vote last December, GLAAD released a statement saying, in part, "The repeal of net neutrality is an attack on the LGBTQ community" and Sarah Kate Ellis, president and CEO, called the repeal "a direct and unconscionable attack on freedom of expression". "It is unclear, as a matter of law, whether the CRA can repeal an "order" as opposed to a "rule'", he said in a statement".

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