Democrats are marshalling to launch an attack on one of the few, but damaging, regressive legislative victories the Republican Party has managed to pass under Trump. Today, Democrats in the Senate launched their attempt to restore net neutrality protections reports The Hill.
Net neutrality essentially says that internet service providers must treat all online content the same, and cant charge customers more to access certain websites or choke off traffic to sites they don’t like. In essence, it prevented ISPs from practicing extortive policies on online companies or the people who wish to access them. Under Trump’s FCC chief, Ajit Pai, net neutrality was repealed, in what was largely seen as textbook Republican corporatism. Now, Democrats are fighting to restore a fair and open internet.
“I believe that today kicks off the most important day for the internet that the Senate has ever seen,” said Sen. Edward Markey (D-MA), who is leading the charge to undo the repeal.
Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY) also lent his voice to the campaign, correctly pointing out that the internet can’t be left solely to the whims of the free market, or consumers will inevitably be unfairly treated. He compared it to the way the government treats highways. We don’t leave their construction and maintenance to the private sector, otherwise, underprivileged and lower socioeconomic regions could be neglected entirely.
The Democrats will use the Congressional Review Act (CRA) to force a vote on net neutrality, an approach that permits Congress to undo regulatory changes within 60 days of them being introduced. In order for it to work, it will need to pass both chambers and Trump will have to sign it.
It looks likely to pass the Senate, as all 47 Democrats and the 2 Independents who caucus with them will be likely be joined by Senator Susan Collins (R-ME). Senator John McCain (R-AZ) will not be able to vote due to his deteriorating health, meaning the Democrats will have a 50-49 majority – unless Joe Manchin (“D”-WV) decides to stab his party in the back for the umpteenth time.
The vote will have a much harder time in the House, and even if it somehow passes it seems unlikely President Trump would sign it. That said, there is value in getting every member of Congress’s official vote marked down on the issue because Democrats can then use the Republicans cronyism and antipathy towards a free internet to bash them during the mid-terms. Senator Brian Schatz (D-HI) explained his rationale.
The vote will be recorded forever and afterward, Republicans won’t be able to hide from their decision.
Next week the Senate will actually vote on Net Neutrality. There will be nowhere for Senators to hide. You are either for it or you are against it. No excuses, no lame explanations, just an up or down vote on the record. I am looking forward to this.
— Brian Schatz (@brianschatz) May 9, 2018
Hopefully, through some miracle, the vote passes and net neutrality is restored. If not, Americans have all the more reason to vote in a wave of Democrats into office. Republicans in Congress care for nothing other than enriching their donors, and they will continue to sell the country out at every turn until they’re thrown out.