Hot on the heels of a surprising 52-47 Senate disapproval of the FCCs new, weaker net neutrality rules, the House of Representatives will soon attempt to force a similar vote under the Congressional Review Act. Representative Mike Doyle (D-PA) announced in a statement and at a press conference following the Senate vote that he will begin the process first thing tomorrow morning. I have introduced a companion CRA in the house, Rep. Doyle said, but Im also going to begin a discharge petition which we will have open for signature tomorrow morning. And I urge every member whos uproots a free and open internet to join me and sign this petition so we can bring this legislation to the floor. The CRA requires Senate and House to submit the resolution itself, in the formers case Joint Resolution 52, after which a certain number of people to sign off on whats called a discharge petition, actually forces a vote. Senate votes to reverse FCC order and restore net neutralityIn the Senate this number is only 30, which makes it a useful tool for the minority party, which can easily gather that many votes if its an important issue (a full majority is still required to pass the resolution). But in the House a majority is required, 218 at present. Thats a more difficult ask, since Democrats only hold 193 seats there. Theyd need two dozen Republicans to switch sides, and while its clear from the defection of three Senators from the party line that such bipartisan support is possible, its far from a done deal. Todays success may help move the needle, though. Should the required votes be gathered, which could happen tomorrow, or take much longer, the vote will then be scheduled, though a congressional aide I talked to was unsure how quickly it would follow. It only took a week in the Senate to go from petition to floor vote, but that period could be longer in the House depending on how the schedule works out.
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.