Senators Attempt Net Neutrality Rollback Reversal


Congressional Democrats on Tuesday introduced a measure to overturn the Federal Communication Commission's plan to repeal net neutrality rules.

Senator Ed Markey, a Democrat from Massachusetts, led the effort on Tuesday, a Net Neutrality "Day of Action," by introducing a measure that would reverse the FCC’s December decision to roll back net neutrality regulations.

The proposed measure would invoke the Congressional Review Act, which allows Congress veto agency rules within 60 days of their publication in the Federal Register by way of a majority vote.

[Related: Solution Providers: The FCC's Net Neutrality Repeal Could Complicate Cloud Services]

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The FCC officially published its repeal of the 2015 net neutrality rules into the Federal Register, the government's official record of all administrative actions earlier this month. The Republican-led FCC voted in December to end net neutrality regulations.

The Markey-led measure needs 51 votes to pass through the Senate and off to the House of Representatives and is currently one vote shy. So far, 47 Democrats, two independents, and one Republican senator have already signed on in favor of the measure. The resolution has 150 Democratic sponsors and currently no Republican support in the House of Representatives, according to Politico.

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer revealed his plan on Tuesday to force a vote on the issue in the coming months. The Congressional Review Act only requires 30 sponsors to bring a resolution to the floor.

"If our Republican friends don’t wise up and join us, Democrats will be making net neutrality a major issue in the 2018 elections, and we will win," Schumer said during a rally at the Capitol on Tuesday, which drew in net neutrality activists and House and Senate members. "We have an opportunity to save the internet."

Under the new rules proposed by Republican FCC Chairman Ajit Pai, telecom providers could potentially block and "throttle" traffic from other internet or content providers, such as Google and Facebook, but broadband companies would have to disclose to users how they handle web traffic.

By contrast, the Obama-era net neutrality rules disallowed blocking, throttling and paid prioritization of internet traffic. Telecom, cable and broadband companies, especially those that own media properties have pushed hard to roll back those rules so they can lower their content distribution costs while potentially slowing or locking out competitive content and services.

If no action is taken from the Senate, state attorneys general, or advocacy groups, the Obama-era net neutrality rules could be abolished by April 23.