US Senates get enough votes to progress on net neutrality

Andrew Cummings
May 17, 2018

The FCC, led by Trump-nominated Ajit Pai, decided previous year to end net neutrality rules in a move that voters across the political spectrum largely opposed.

And one expert has predicted that the abolition of net neutrality will see the end of an open Internet.

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer spoke after the vote to begin debate earlier Wednesday, arguing that "at stake is the future of the internet".

"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.

Still, Democrats are already using their messaging in campaign material. John Boozman, R-Ark., said in a written statement.

But, for now, net neutrality lives.

Today's vote implications are significant-net neutrality is critical for our nation's progress and for the creation of good jobs in the future.

The US Senate yesterday voted to retain net neutrality, over-turning the FCC's repeal back in December. Only some minor parts of the repeal took effect such as including the internet as an information service rather than a utility.

The Democratic senators were only able to secure enough votes thanks to three Republican senators who were ultimately persuaded to vote in favour of the proposal. They were joined by the two independents who usually vote with them, Sens.

Collins announced her support in January, but Kennedy and Murkowski had been undecided. The potential full support of all Democrats would still see the need for 22 Republicans to agree in order for this to happen, which many USA analysts view as a tall order. However, a similar vote looks unlikely in the Republican-dominated U.S. House. 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. The measure can not be filibustered in the Senate. The measure still faces an uphill battle. Tech giants such as Google and Facebook have been vocal in their support for the retention of the rules.

Polls have shown strong public backing for Net neutrality.

Later, Rep. Anna Eshoo, a California Democrat who represents Silicon Valley, said she was happy by the result in the Senate with the legislation.

Lobbyists tried to convince senators that net neutrality rules aren't needed "because ISPs will self-regulate", and that blocking, throttling and paid prioritization are just hypothetical harms, Markey said.

Markey said net neutrality has worked for the smallest voices and the largest, but he said internet service providers are trying to change the rules to benefit their interests.

House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Greg Walden (R-Ore.) denounced the measure as a grandstanding manoeuvre that gets in the way of a bipartisan net neutrality remedy.

Even if the resolution fails, many states, including California and NY, are doing all they can to fight back against the FCC's decision with their own net neutrality proposals. The CRA allows lawmakers to review and potentially repeal new rules made by federal oversight agencies.

Information for this article was contributed by Frank E. Lockwood of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.

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