Senate Votes to Restore Net Neutrality in a Rare Victory for Democrats

Senate Minority Leader Sen. Charles Schumer and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi smile during a press conference following the vote that would help stop the Federal Communications Commission's effort to reverse Obama-era regulations on net neutrality May 16, 2018. (Photo: Sarah Silbiger / CQ Roll Call)Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi smile during a press conference following the vote that would help stop the Federal Communications Commission’s effort to reverse Obama-era regulations on net neutrality, May 16, 2018. (Photo: Sarah Silbiger / CQ Roll Call)

In a big win for Democrats and digital rights advocates, the Senate approved a resolution on Wednesday that would restore popular net neutrality rules for internet service providers at the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) by a vote of 52 to 47.

Democrats see net neutrality as a potent wedge issue ahead of the midterm elections and were united behind the resolution, which would reverse the FCC’s December order repealing its own net neutrality rules. Republicans, Sen. John Kennedy of Louisiana and Sen. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, defected from the GOP to give Democrats the votes needed to pass the resolution with a simple majority.

The FCC’s net neutrality rules, which are scheduled to be replaced by much weaker requirements on June 11, prevent internet service providers like AT&T and Comcast from blocking, slowing or prioritizing web content. For Democrats, passing the resolution is a rare legislative victory in a Congress that is controlled by the GOP and has embraced the Trump administration’s deregulatory agenda.

“Only in Washington is this controversial, largely due to the influence of high-paid lobbyists for big cable and telecommunications companies like Comcast, Verizon, and AT&T,” said Chris Lewis, vice president of the digital rights group Public Knowledge, in a statement.

The resolution faces an uphill battle in the House, where the GOP holds a powerful majority. However, pressuring lawmakers to take up the resolution could force vulnerable Republican incumbents to either buck the deregulatory party line or take an unpopular position with the midterms looming.

Since taking over Congress and the White House, Republicans have quietly worked to dismantle net…

Read more