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Democrats hope to force a Senate vote on net neutrality

Despite the FCC's action, supporters of the policy haven't given up

Photo (c) theasis - Getty Images
They admit it's a longshot, but supporters of net neutrality think there's a chance to salvage the concept that internet service providers (ISP) must treat all content the same.

Reuters reports Senate Democrats have secured 50 votes to subject the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) rollback of net neutrality to the Congressional Review Act, which gives Congress a chance or overturn executive branch regulations.

With the prolonged absence of Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) due to illness, Democrats now think they would prevail on a 50-49 vote.

Democrats are joined by a handful of large technology companies -- such as Amazon, Facebook, Google, and Etsy -- that are urging their users to lobby lawmakers. Users are getting a special message from these sites today when they log in, asking that they call their local representatives.

Narrow window of opportunity

Net neutrality supporters say a window of opportunity still exists because the FCC has not moved to finalize its new rule that overturns the old rule. It must submit its new rule to the Office of Management and Budget for formal approval.

Next, the FCC is required to provide a timeline for the changes to take effect. Complicating matters is a move by Washington, and several other states, to draw up their own net neutrality laws.

Late last month, Fortune reported that some FCC critics suspect the agency is dragging its feet in order to draw up its own net neutrality rules that would favor large ISPs. A revised federal neutrality rule could then arguably supersede rules passed at the state level.

Victory in the Senate next week might not be enough, however. Backers of the original policy would also have to win in the GOP-controlled House, then persuade President Trump to sign it.

That's why tech companies are urging users to pressure House members in an effort to convince GOP lawmakers that saving net neutrality might be a very good survival strategy for the fall's midterm elections.

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