The Senate voted on Wednesday to reverse the Federal Communication Commission’s net neutrality ruling. The bill, which has a very negligible chance of passing in the House of Representatives, may likely become a flagpole moment as the midterm elections draw nearer.
The Democrats maneuvered the bill to a vote by force using a legislative tool known as the Congressional Review Act (CRA). CRA bills are a mechanism that Congress can use to overturn recent agency actions. These bills require a majority vote of approval from each chamber.
The Democrats were able to persuade a small number of Republican Senators to vote in support of the bill, including Susan Collins (Maine), Lisa Murkowski (Alaska), and John Kennedy (Lousiana).
The bill makes the argument that without net neutrality regulations, major companies will be able to discriminate against certain content or boost their business interests’ websites.
Of course, the bill faces an impossible uphill battle. The House’s Republican majority is significantly greater than in the Senate. Even if the bill passes in the House (which would require flipping 25 Republicans), it will be placed in President Trump’s consideration, which would inevitably result in a veto.
Despite the odds against the bill, Democrats and proponents of net neutrality have emphasized the bill’s success in the Senate in order to promote it as a prominent campaign issue.
“A key question for anyone on the campaign trail in 2018 will now be, ‘Do you support net neutrality?’ ” Senator Ed Markey (D-Massachusetts) said in a press conference after the vote.
The FCC’s Chairman, Ajit Pai (R), tore into Democrats and accused them of using the bill as a “scare tactic.”
“It’s disappointing that Senate Democrats forced this resolution through by a narrow margin,” Pai said in a statement. “But ultimately, I’m confident that their effort to reinstate heavy-handed government regulation of the internet will fail.”
Representative Mike Doyle (D-Pennsylvania) announced that he would release a discharge petition on the bill on Thursday morning.
During a press conference on Wednesday, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-California) and Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-New York) demanded that Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wisconsin) bring the bill to the House floor.
“We consider this one of the major issues of the 2018 campaign,” Schumer said to reporters.
Various polls have shown a consistent public support of net neutrality. One poll from just before the FCC’s repeal decision reported that more than 80 percent of respondents wanted to have the rules remain the same.
The FCC ultimately voted 3-2 along party lines in December, causing an overwhelmingly negative response from the public.
H/T: The Hill