March 24, 2023

Top Democrats just succeeded in forcing a showdown with Republicans over net neutrality

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In what may be a win-win moment for Democrats, the proponents of legislation to reverse the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) edict to repeal Net Neutrality rules now has 30 sponsors in the U.S. Senate, which guarantees it will be voted on.

With 29 other Senators joining Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass), the bill can now bypass the procedural requirement for approval by a committee and be guaranteed a vote by the full Senate.

Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) became the 30th sponsor, which allows the backers to use Congress’s authority under the Congressional Review Act (CRA) to reverse the FCC’s decision to scrap the Obama-era rules to keep the Internet open.

“We’ve reached the magic number of 30 to secure a vote on the Senate floor, and that number will only continue to climb,” Markey said in a statement Monday, according to The Hill. 

“Republicans are faced with a choice – be on the right side of history and stand with the American people who support a free and open Internet, or hold hands with the special interests who want to control the Internet for their own profit.”

The repeal bill is now waiting for approval by the Office of Budget and Management. The Senate has 60 legislative days to pass the CRA.

Since Republicans have the majority in both the Senate and House, passage is certainly not assured.

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“But Democrats and activists see a clear upside in forcing GOP lawmakers to rake an official stance during an election year on the consumer protections,” reports The Hill, “which polls have shown to be popular among voters.”

Evan Greer, an activist with the group Fight for the Future, which has vowed to make Net Neutrality an issue in the November midterm elections, said “Today’s news show that lawmakers from both parties cannot hide from their constituents on this issue.”

“Every member of the U.S. Senate will have to go on record,” adds Greer, “during a tight election year, and either vote to save the Internet or rubber stamp its death warrant.”

The repeal of Net Neutrality was jammed through the FCC by the Republican majority on strict party lines without much discussion.

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The Republicans also ignored the fact there was significant tampering with the process of public comments on the Internet about the repeal,  which was found by the New York State Attorney General to have been tampered with by foreigners and possibly others.

This repeal has been celebrated by the big Internet providers like Verizon and AT&T who can now find new ways to interfere with web traffic for their own benefit and those of channels they own and are free to find additional ways to raise prices.

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Among those against the repeal were big Silicon Valley companies including Google and Twitter.

What makes this a win-win for Democrats is even if the bill is defeated by Republicans, it gives Democrats an emotional issue to campaign on, and to show how out of touch the Republicans are with what the majority of American consumers want and need. 


Benjamin Locke

Benjamin Locke is a retired college professor with an undergraduate degree in Industrial Labor and Relations from Cornell University and an MBA from the European School of Management.

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