US Senate Reaches 50 Supporters to Reverse Net Neutrality Repeal

Democratic senators appear to be making inroads in getting sponsors to a bill that would reverse the FCC net neutrality repeal.

The push to reverse the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) decision continues. Last year, the trade body voted to scrap the rules protecting network neutrality. The idea is that once the decision makes it into the register, ISPs will be free to block or slow down websites for competitive reasons. With the economic benefits of a free and open Internet at risk, there is currently a strong push to try and block the decision.

One of those efforts is currently underway in the halls of government. The idea is that federal lawmakers push for a bill that would reverse the decision. The bill aims to trigger the Congressional Review Act which would allow government to reverse the trade bodies decision.

Last week, Democrats secured 30 votes in the senate. That magic number would allow the bill to make it to the floor for a vote. Of course, Democrats aren’t just pushing for the bill to come to a vote. The effort is to get enough sponsors to pass the legislation as well.

Today, we are learning that Democrats have now secured a sizable 50 votes in the senate – just one vote shy of a majority. From The Hill:

Democrats are just one GOP vote shy of the 51-vote threshold for a Senate resolution of disapproval, which would strike down the FCC’s December rules change.

“With full caucus support,” Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) said, “it’s clear that Democrats are committed to fighting to keep the internet from becoming the Wild West where ISPs are free to offer premium service to only the wealthiest customers while average consumers are left with far inferior options.”

The Democrats’ effort won the support of its first Republican backer, Sen. Susan Collins (Maine), last Tuesday.

“Senator Collins does not support the FCC’s recent decision to repeal net neutrality rules, and she will support Senator Markey’s legislation that would overturn the FCC’s vote,” spokeswoman Annie Clark said in a statement to The Hill.

So, one question at this stage is, is there another step Democrats can take this legislation past a general majority? The answer is yes. If there are two thirds majority of the senators supporting the bill, then the senate can obtain what is known as “cloture” or a “super majority”. At that stage, the president cannot veto the legislation and the bill would become law.

Of course, politically, this is difficult even though it is currently 17 votes away from achieving this. Right now, every Democrat supports the bill which means they have to bring Republican’s on side. It’s a tall order given that the Trump administration heavily supports scrapping the rules protecting the open market of the Internet in favour of big ISPs deciding winners and losers. On the other hand, no one said that Democrats can’t try and save the Internet in spite of the political odds.

It’s unclear what the goal is for this bill. Will it be to get just this legislation passed or will it be to get the seemingly unlikely super majority? We don’t really know at this stage, but right now, it is looking good to get that general majority of senators to support this.

Drew Wilson on Twitter: @icecube85 and Google+.

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