Back in December, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) voted to repeal Obama-era net neutrality regulations. Led by Republican FCC Chairman Ajit Pai (an appointee of President Donald Trump) the reversal would effectively put an end to a free and open internet in America by giving freedom to internet service providers (ISPs) over consumers.
The fight over net neutrality is not new: initiatives similar to the “Restoring Internet Freedom” order have been put forth by the FCC in the past decade, though they’ve always been shut down. Which is what Democrats, led by Massachusetts Senator Ed Markey, are attempting once again to do.
On Tuesday, Congressional Democrats introduced their plan to “reverse the reversal,” taking aim at the FCC’s decision — which was filed in the Federal Register last week. Once a decision is filed in the register, opponents in Congress have 60 days from the time of filing to introduce a resolution. The resolution only needs 30 sponsors to reach the floor but needs the majority vote to pass.
Presently, the resolution has the support of 50 senators who oppose the repeal, meaning it still needs the support of one more senator. As all Democrat and Independent members of Congress (as well as one Republican senator, Susan Collins of Maine) have signed on, that final push of support will have to come from a senator across the aisle. Meanwhile, in the House of Representatives, the proposed resolution has the support of 150 Democrats, but no Republicans.
Even if Democrats can get their one-more-vote in the Senate, it’s unlikely they could find enough support for it to pass the Republican-dominated House. Even if they did, it’s even more unlikely that President Trump would pass it once it landed on his desk.
While the effort may be futile in the practical sense, Democrats clearly see it as having lasting political value. The opposition to the FCC’s ruling from citizens, companies, and experts has been fierce, fired by the very social media that would stand to be tamped down by the FCC’s reversal.
If this is to be its swan song, Democrats don’t want to let net neutrality die without a fight, therefore ensuring the legacy of a free and open internet in the United States is preserved.