Democrats to force vote on net neutrality in longshot bid to save FCC rules

It appears unlikely that President Trump would sign the legislation into law, however

Clark Mindock
New York
Monday 14 May 2018 15:48 BST
An overwhelming number of Americans support net neutrality rules, surveys show
An overwhelming number of Americans support net neutrality rules, surveys show (Getty)

Senate Democrats will force a vote this week on a bill that could save net neutrality rules that the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has voted to kill.

The Wednesday vote comes just a month ahead of the FCC-set repeal date for the rules, which were implemented in 2015 during the administration of former President Barack Obama. The rules, broadly speaking, prohibit internet service providers (ISPs) like Comcast, AT&T, and Verizon from favouring certain services and apps over others by charging websites higher rates for quicker speeds.

The anti-repeal bill has 50 backers in the Senate, including one Republican, which is one vote short of the 51-vote majority it needs to pass, unless Senator John McCain continues to stay home as he battles brain cancer. Even so, it is unlikely that the bill would be favoured in the GOP-held House of Representatives, much less signed by President Donald Trump.

Mr Trump has expressed support for repealing the rules in the past.

Democrats have been able to force the vote using the Congressional Review Act, which allows senators to force a vote with just 30 people on board. Republicans who oppose the measure will not be allowed to filibuster the Senate vote.

“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 colour and small businesses,” Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schemer said Monday in a statement. “A vote against this resolution will be a vote to protect large corporations and special interests, leaving the American public to pay the price.”

The forced vote shows that Democrats may see the rules as an issue they could win over voters with during the id term elections this November.

Recent polling shows that Americans overwhelmingly support the net neutrality rules, which the FCC voted in December to kill. Opponents of the net neutrality rules say the the restrictions are unnecessary, stifle innovation, and that ISPs should be allowed to provide top-notch download speeds for companies that want them.

Respondents in an April survey showed that 86 per cent of Americans oppose repealing the net neutrality rules, including 82 per cent of Republicans and 90 per cent of Democrats. That’s up slightly from December, when 83 per cent of Americans said they opposed removing the rules.

“I cannot think of an issue that polls so decisively on one side,” Senator Brian Schatz told the Los Angeles Times. “People underestimate the passion of internet voters at their peril. They are mad and they want to know what they can do, and this vote will make things crystal clear.”

Supporters of keeping the net neutrality regulations also include online activists, and large technology companies like Amazon, Facebook, Google, and Netflix.

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