Todays the big day for the Senates big push to undo the FCCs Restoring Internet Freedom order nullifying 2015s net neutrality rules. A vote is scheduled for this afternoon on whether to repeal that order, though as of this writing the coalition is still one vote shy of making it happen. The vote is an application of the Congressional Review Act, which as you might guess from the name allows Congress to review and if necessary undo recent regulations enacted by federal agencies. Its been seldom used for decades but the current administration has been very free with it as a method of squelching rules passed in the twilight of the Obama era. Today Senate Democrats strike back with the same weapon. A simple majority is required, but right now only a single Republican Senator, Maines Susan Collins, has courageously stepped across the aisle to join the Democrat-led effort. One more would pass the bill, though it would still have to get through the House and the presidents desk, making its prognosis poor. The FCC just repealed net neutrality. What happens next? That matters little, though: until today, many senators will have been able to largely stay silent on the issue, and a vote to support this highly unpopular rule may come back to bite them come midterms. Net neutrality may very well be an issue constituencies care about, or at least thats what Democratic challengers are hoping for. On the other hand, a Democratic-led CRA is a direct, partisan attack on the administration, which has supported this FCCs actions, and would cause return to Obama-era rules, which few Republicans would relish. Will any Republican senators see the writing on the wall and flip? Or will they stick to the party and leave it to be decided by a tie-breaker vote almost certain to go in their favor? Tune in to the Senate webcast to find out; the vote should happen around 3PM Eastern, but as always in government timing is only approximate.
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.