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Senate To Force Vote On Reversal Of FCC Net Neutrality Repeal

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Democrats in the U.S. have now collected co-sponsors for a measure that would invalidate the Federal Communications Commission's vote against net neutrality. To overturn the net neutrality repeal, Senate would use the Congressional Review Act.

In December, the FCC repealed Obama-era net neutrality rules which protected consumers against internet service providers throttling specific websites. The move was cheered by internet service providers, who saw the rules as government overreach.

Opponents of the move argued that this would introduce a world where ISPs favor certain websites over others. Democrats in the U.S. Senate could now change this.

Net Neutrality In The Senate

The campaign to overturn the net neutrality repeal is led by Democratic Senator Ed Markey who said in a press conference that the FCC had turned a "deaf ear to millions of Americans standing up for a free and open internet."

Using the Congressional Review Act, lawmakers can debate, vote, and undo actions by federal agencies. For the Congressional Review Act, Democrats needed only 30 votes.

Nothing can be done about the repeal yet. It still has not become published in the federal rule repository, the Federal Register. The repeal has not been sent to Congress yet either. This is a tiny step towards forcing a vote on net neutrality.

Probability Of Passing

Democrats are still in the minority of the Senate, with the Republicans controlling the Senate with a slim majority of 51-49. Even if the bill fails, it pushes the issue of net neutrality to the forefront, with many of the lawmakers in Congress being up for re-election in the 2018 midterms.

After the FCC rules are published, the Senate has 60 days to introduce the resolution. It could be passed with a simple majority. The challenge is that the repeal was passed by the Republican-controlled FCC. For any Republicans to vote against the net neutrality repeal, they would have to go against their own party.

Democrats may manage to get Republicans to vote against the net neutrality repeal, but the bill would have to be signed by President Donald Trump. Trump is the one who appointed FCC Chairman Ajit Pai. If he does not approve the resolution, the Democrats would not have enough votes to overturn the veto. It would be difficult to see Trump going against the chairman who from the beginning has said he wanted to get rid of net neutrality.

While it may table the issue for the time being, the issue will become a major part of the upcoming midterm election. Major companies have already announced that they will sue the government once the net neutrality repeal goes into place. 

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