The fight continues as it heads to the House. A spirited campaign by Democratic lawmakers to save net neutrality has passed the Senate, moving one step closer toward forestalling its scheduled demise on June 11th. The vote was predictably close along party lines: In addition to every Democrat supporting the legislation, the final 52-47 tally featured three Republican legislators, Susan Collins (R-ME), Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) and John Kennedy (R-LA), voting in favor of the bill. "We don't let water companies or phone companies discriminate against customers, we don't restrict access to freeways deciding you can use them and you can't," Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY) said before the official vote. "Are you on the side of large internet companies, or are you on the side of American families? That's what this debate is about." Of course, after its passage, this Resolution of Disapproval heads to the House of Representatives. There, Democrats need 25 Republicans to agree to force a vote, but there it would likely be shot down. Even if it succeeds, the bill would head to Trump's desk and an almost certain veto. There's a lot of work to preserve net neutrality before its repeal in June, and some dismissed the bill as insufficient and partisan. "I rise in support of net neutrality, but there are many of us who believe in codifying net neutrality, but what doesn't make sense is this legislation," said Sen. John Thune (R-SD) in the session's opening. He, among other Republicans, denounced Democrats for politicizing the issue, continuing: "Why aren't we debating a bipartisan bill instead of a partisan solution? " Democrats are happy to create bipartisan legislation, Schumer said, but it will take awhile -- the Resolution of Disapproval is a protective step in the meantime. It would halt the removal of regulations passed in 2015 to prevent internet service providers from blocking or throttling access to any site on the web.
The Senate today voted 52-47 to disapprove the FCCs recent order replacing 2015s net neutrality rules, a pleasant surprise for internet advocates and consumers throughout the country. Although the disapproval will almost certainly not lead to the new rules being undone, it is a powerful statement of solidarity with a constituency activated against this deeply unpopular order. To be clear, the FCCs Restoring Internet Freedom is still set to take effect in June. BREAKING: The Senate just voted to restore #NetNeutrality! We won. To all of those who kept fighting and didnt get discouraged: you did this. You raised your voices and we heard you. Thank you. Now the fight continues. On to the House! Senate Joint Resolution 52 officially disapproves the rule under the Congressional Review Act, which allows Congress to undo recently created rules by federal agencies. It will have to pass in the House as well and then be signed by the president for the old rules to be restored (that or a two-thirds majority, which is equally unlikely). On the other hand, forcing everyone in Congress to officially weigh in will potentially make this an issue in the upcoming midterms. Do you support net neutrality? Every candidate in America is going to be asked that question, said Senator Ed Markey (D-MA) at a press conference after the vote. Senator Brian Schatz (D-HI) related that a Republican colleague of his told him that their office had received more than 6,000 calls from people expressing support for net neutrality and the FCCs original rules, and 10 opposed. People who use the internet all the time realize what this is about. Millions of calls, we dont get that on every issue. People intuitively get this, said Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY) at the press conference. Commission Impossible: How and why the FCC created net neutralityUntil yesterday Senate Democrats, who brought the resolution, had 50 supporters, including one Republican, more than enough to force the issue to be voted on, but not enough to actually pass. Two more Republicans, Alaskas Lisa Murowski and Louisianas John Kennedy joined Maines Susan Collins (the first to cross the aisle) to vote aye on the measure, making the final tally 52-47. (The missing vote belongs to Sen. McCain, who is absent while fighting cancer.) We salute them for their courage, said Senate minority leader Nancy Pelosi at the press conference. FCC Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel commended the Senates action. Today the United States Senate took a big step to fix the serious mess the FCC made when it rolled back net neutrality late last year, she said in a statement. Todays vote is a sign that the fight for internet freedom is far from over. Ill keep raising a ruckus to support net neutrality and I hope others will too. Chairman Ajit Pai, however, was less congratulatory in his own statement. Its disappointing that Senate Democrats forced this resolution through by a narrow margin, he said, But ultimately, Im confident that their effort to reinstate heavy-handed government regulation of the Internet will fail. Both he and Commissioner Carr cited a three-Pinnochio fact-check of Democratic claims regarding net neutrality thats a good guide to avoiding the hysteria occasionally encountered in this debate but provides precious little support for Restoring Internet Freedom, which is itself plagued by technical misunderstandings. The FCCs case against net neutrality rests on a deliberate misrepresentation of how the internet worksRepresentative Mike Doyle, who has been working on the corresponding effort in the House, said he is taking the next step tomorrow morning. With the Majority Leadership in the House opposed to this bill, the only way to bring it before the full House for a vote is through a discharge petition. Under the rules of the House, a bill must be brought to the House Floor for a vote if a majority of Representatives sign a discharge petition demanding it. Im filing a discharge petition to force a vote on the legislation to save Net Neutrality, and we just need to get a majority of Representatives to sign it. Im sure that every Member of the House will want to know where their constituents stand on this issue. As everyone notes above, the fight continues. Be sure to contact your member of Congress.