(Ron Antonelli / Bloomberg News)
The Senate passed a resolution Wednesday reversing a major deregulation of the Federal Communications Commission last year and accusing the Trump government supporting the FCC's move
The resolution aims to have the FCC lift its net neutrality for Internet service providers in December . If successful, the legislative package could restore the Agency's rules and bring victory to tech companies, activists and consumer advocates.
Congressional efforts come less than a month before the official rules expire on 11 June The high-profile vote could put the spotlight on lawmakers who stand for re-election in a difficult mid-season.
"The Senate vote on the eve of the Midterms could have significant political implications," said Marc Martin, a telecommunications lawyer with Perkins Coie in Washington. But, he warned, it remains unclear how many voters are actually motivated by net neutrality to go to the polls.
Senate supporters of the FCC rules submit the legislation under the Congressional Review Act, a law that allows Congress to revisit – and reject – decisions of administrative authorities in a particular window of their approval. The resolution, CRA for short, went through with the support of all 49 Democratic Senators and three Republicans: Sens. Susan Collins of Maine, John N. Kennedy of Louisiana, and Lisa A. Murkowski of Alaska
Sen. Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.), Who led the CRA's efforts, called the vote on Wednesday afternoon a victory for democracy and business.
"When we talk about a free and open Internet, we think it's free of corporate control," said Markey, who called the house to take the action.
Kennedy, whose voice was one of the few Republicans to associate with Democrats on the issue, was eventually persuaded to say "yes". More than 1 out of 5 Louisians lack the choice in their broadband provider. "It was a pretty brief call, but I'll tell you what matters: How much you trust your cable company," Kennedy told the Washington Post shortly after the vote. "If you trust your cable company, you will not like my vote today – if you do not trust your cable company, you will."
Kennedy's election was premiered by Democrats. Markey and Kennedy have met and debated several times in recent weeks over the past few weeks, according to a Democratic adviser, and the staff of the two legislators are in constant communication.
Nevertheless, it is unclear what fate the measure will await the house. Senate minority leader Charles Schumer (DN.Y.) urged the house to pick up the problem quickly.
"House republicans do not have to choose the same path that the vast majority of Republicans elected in the Senate," Schumer said at a Wednesday afternoon press conference. Speakers Ryan should listen. "
The House House majority leader, Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), Said lawmakers in this chamber focused on framing their own legislation to" permanently fix this issue. " to tackle ". And with the approval of the White House suspending the FCC, analysts say, it's unlikely Trump will sign the ruling to make it effective. (In one of its first acts, Trump signed a Republican-backed CRA last year that fought other FCC rules that established new privacy rules for Internet users.)
The network neutralization regulations imposed on broadband companies such as AT & T, Verizon, and Comcast in 2015, banned the industry from blocking or slowing down websites. The rules also prohibit companies from providing websites and app developers with faster, easier access to Internet users for an additional charge – a tactic that critics call digital "highways" that could distort online competition for the benefit of large, affluent businesses. 19659015] Despite a legal challenge by broadband industry groups seeking to lift the rules in 2016, they came under fire again a year later – this time from the agency's new Republican leadership. FCC leader Ajit Pai cited anti-net neutrality as an example of over-regulation by the government, which prevents ISPs from upgrading their networks.
"Under my proposal, the federal government will stop managing the internet." He said in November, a month before he and the two other FCC Republicans, Michael O Rielly and Brendan Carr, voted to lift the rules.
The then two Democrats of the Agency, Mignon Clyburn and Jessica Rosenworcel, voted that they would retain the rules in the books
Pai's opponents have said that the rules are a necessary consumer protection, given the Internet's support the economic livelihoods of the American everyday population has become more important. In surveys, firm majorities support the principle of net neutrality in general and the rules of the FCC in particular.
"Pais's so-called" Internet Freedom Restoration "was built on a mountain of false premises – about the law, the investment status … and public sentiment," tweeted Tim Karr, a consumer advocate at Free Press, Tuesday ,
In response to the vote on Wednesday, AT & T said it is becoming a permanent legislative compromise between Republicans and Democrats on the issue.
"We reaffirm our call for true bipartisan legislation that applies to all Internet companies and guarantees neutrality, transparency, openness, non-discrimination and data protection for all Internet users," said the telecommunications giant a statement
sent a letter to Capitol Hill on Tuesday calling on MPs to vote against the CRA. The groups called on Congress to reject the resolution in favor of developing bipartisan legislation to replace FCC rules. They argued that the rating agency is "doing nothing" against data mining and other practices of technology companies that are becoming increasingly aware of their role in this area, facilitating the dissemination of online misinformation and harassment.
The Internet Association, a corporate group supported by Facebook, Uber and others, has stated that regulations that target hate-loving Silicon Valley could clash with the First Amendment. Last week, consumers also demanded strict and enforceable net neutrality for Internet service providers.
"It is important that rules be reintroduced by all means necessary, including the CRA, the courts, or bipartisan legislation," said the statement group.
Tony Romm contributed to this report.