Senate Democrats Obtain Enough Support to Force Net Neutrality Vote

Senate Democrats have obtained enough support to force a floor vote on whether to reinstate the FCC’s net neutrality rules.

Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) said on Monday that she was the 30th senator to sign on to a plan to use a procedural rule to vote on a reversal of the FCC’s actions.

“What I’ve heard from the thousands of Missourians who’ve contacted my office is simple — consumers should have protected, free, and open access to the online content of their choosing,” McCaskill said in a statement.

The FCC voted 3-2 last month to get rid of rules that prohibit internet service providers from blocking or throttling content, or from selling so-called “fast lanes” to sites that want speedier access to consumers. The commission did adopt new rules requiring that internet providers disclose the way they handle traffic, but net neutrality advocates say that they are insufficient.

Sen. Edward Markey (D-Mass.) then launched an effort to reverse the FCC’s repeal via the Congressional Review Act. The effort required 30 co-sponsors to bring it to a vote. Markey would have to wait until the FCC’s action is published in the Federal Register before calling for a vote, but it is unclear when that will happen.

The vote would be symbolic. Even if a majority of the Senate voted to reverse the FCC’s decision and reinstate the rules, it still would need a majority of the House, as well as President Donald Trump’s signature. The White House has already indicated that it supported the repeal.

But Democrats see net neutrality as a 2018 campaign issue, and the vote would put lawmakers on the record on such a contentious issue.

“When we vote on my CRA to restore #NetNeutrality, every senator will have to go on record on how they see the Internet: a dynamic, diverse, democratic space that fosters innovation or just another market for massive corporations to control,” Markey said in a statement on Twitter.

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