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Senate approves rollback of FCC’s net neutrality ruling

Despite the victory, a long road remains for saving the popular internet policy

Photo (c) designer491 - Getty Images
By a vote of 52 to 47, senators voted to overturn the Federal Communication Commission’s Restoring Internet Freedom Order. The FCC repealed the Obama-era net neutrality policy last December.

On Wednesday, all 49 Democrats voted in favor of restoring the consumer-friendly rule, as well as Republican Senators Susan Collins, of Maine; John Kennedy, of Louisiana; and Lisa Murkowski, of Alaska.

Democrats used a tool called the Congressional Review Act (CRA) to reverse the ruling. The CRA allows Congress to review and potentially reverse recent decisions made by federal agencies.

"Today is a monumental day," said Sen. Edward Markey, D-Mass., during debate over the resolution. "Today we show the American people who sides with them, and who sides with the powerful special interests and corporate donors who are thriving under this administration."

Long road ahead

The action represented a blow to the FCC’s new rule, which is set to go into effect June 11. However, the vote was mostly symbolic. Net neutrality still faces a long, uphill battle toward restoration.   

The House -- which is comprised of a large GOP majority -- doesn’t intend to take similar action. Democrats will need at least 25 Republicans to join them in the House. After that, President Trump would need to give final executive approval, which he is unlikely to provide since he has said that he agrees with the FCC’s policy.

Democrats say they’re planning to carry the fight to salvage the concept that internet service providers (ISP) must treat all content the same into the 2018 midterms. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer believes the vote will energize Democratic voters in the midterm elections and help the party capture seats currently held by Republicans.

“A vote against this resolution will be a vote to protect large corporations and special interests, leaving the American public to pay the price,” Schumer said.

‘Disastrous’ for the average consumer

Critics of the FCC’s net neutrality rules, which have been in place since 2015, say they’re worried about consumers being forced to pay more for slower or less consistent service. FCC Chairman Ajit Pai, part of the Republican majority, has called the rule "heavy-handed" and unnecessary.

Those fighting to restore net neutrality have called the FCC’s decision to repeal the policy “disastrous” for its potential impact on the average consumer and middle-class family.

“The internet should be kept free and open like our highways, accessible and affordable to every American, regardless of ability to pay,” Schumer said.

“The repeal of net neutrality is not only a blow to the average consumer, but it is a blow to public schools, rural Americans, communities of color and small businesses. A vote against this resolution will be a vote to protect large corporations and special interests, leaving the American public to pay the price.”

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