Democrats force Senate vote on net neutrality repeal

Jan 08 2018

Jan 08 2018

Washington, New York, and California have all introduced state-level net neutrality legislation in the aftermath of the FCC's decision to repeal Obama-era net neutrality rules that treat the Internet like a public utility.

Markey's bill, a Congressional Resolution of Disapproval, needed at least 29 co-sponsors to force a vote in the Republican-controlled Senate.

Senator Ed Markey (D-MA) first introduced the bill, which is meant to use the power of the Congressional Review Act to undo the FCC's decision. But net neutrality proponents say they want Congress to vote on the measure despite the challenges. Those rules, which capped a decade-long process by the agency of trying to guarantee net neutrality, barred broadband service providers from blocking, slowing, or providing preferred access to particular online sites or services. Once the new rule is published in the federal register and the FCC submits a report to the House and Senate, Congress has a limited period of time to act.

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Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) was the latest senator to express support for the bill, which put the number of supporters above the procedural requirement to bypass committee approval. The sponsors for the resolution include 29 Democrats and Bernie Sanders, an independent who votes with the Democrats.

Admittedly, this bill doesn't have great prospects, given the Republican majority in both houses of Congress and the fact that it eventually has to hit the desk of Donald Trump. Previously a seldom used, obscure law, the CRA was used multiple times by Congress previous year to overturn regulations issued in the waning days of the Obama administration.

Markey's bill likely won't restore the net neutrality rules in the end, even if it passes in the Senate. But California legislators are seeking to thread the needle by forcing telecom companies to agree to net neutrality rules as a condition of accessing utility poles, which are owned by the state. A University of Maryland poll last month found they were supported by 83% of Americans, including 75% of Republicans. "IA intends to act as an intervenor in judicial action against this order and, along with our member companies, will continue our push to restore strong, enforceable net neutrality protections through a legislative solution". "We had to carry the water when we were growing up and we were small", Hastings said, "and now other companies need to be on that leading edge", stating also that "where net neutrality is really important is the Netflix of 10 years ago".

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