Net Neutrality: Senate Votes To Stop Repeal, But New Fights Ahead

WASHINGTON D.C.—The United States Senate on Wednesday voted to overturn a December decision by the Republican-controlled Federal Communications Commission that will end “net neutrality” rules on June 11. But the Senate vote appears to be largely symbolic. The House of Representatives, where the GOP currently holds a 43-seat majority, has no plans to take up the net neutrality measure.

One prominent Democrat, California Representative Adam Schiff, quickly called on House Speaker Paul Ryan to set a vote on the Senate measure.

“The American people have made clear they want a free and open internet, without fast lanes and slow lanes,” Schiff wrote on his Twitter account moments after the Senate vote. “It’s time for Congress to listen. The Senate just voted to save Net Neutrality. There is no excuse. Speaker Ryan must schedule a vote. Now.”

In the Senate on Wednesday, the resolution to toss out the FCC’s 3-2 party line vote—a resolution sponsored by Massachusetts Democrat Ed Markey—passed by a 52-47 margin, with three Republicans joining all 47 Democrats and two independent senators in voting to keep Obama-era net neutrality rules in place.

“Net neutrality” rules guarantee that all online sites are allowed equal access to the internet, with even the smallest sites being allowed access to the online data “pipes” at the same rate as massive, corporate sites such as Google and Facebook. For porn consumers, net neutrality appears especially important, because it prevents internet service providers from blocking access to porn sites, or charging additional fees for users to access adult content.

Republicans Susan Collins of Maine, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, and John Kennedy of Louisiana joined Senate Democrats and independents to put together the 52-vote total in favor of stopping the FCC move, which was pushed hard by the commission’s Donald Trump-appointed chief, Ajit Pai.

"Today is a monumental day," Markey said on the Senate floor Wednesday. "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."

Even if the House does not vote on stopping the net neutrality rollback, Democrats believe the issue—which polls show garnering wide public support across the political spectrum—will be a winner in the November 2018 midterm elections.

“I think it’s increasingly clear that there’s not an issue you can find that polls this decisively in one direction," Hawaii Democrat Brian Schatz told the online magazine Politico on Wednesday. "There’s good momentum for net neutrality. People didn’t think we were going to succeed in the Senate.”

Photo by VGrigas (WMF) / Wikimedia Commons