May 9 (UPI) — Senate Democrats and a single Republican moved to force a vote to restore net neutrality protections Wednesday.
A group of senators led by Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., and Sen. Edward J. Markey, D-Mass., filed a discharge petition, necessary to trigger a vote to overrule the Federal Communications Commission’s decision to revoke the Obama-era protections.
The senators hope to put the open Internet rules back in place through the Congressional Review Act, which allows Congress to veto rulings by federal agencies such as the FCC.
All 49 of the Senate Democrats support the resolution as does Republican Sen. Susan Collins of Maine, who previously joined a Democratic push for a vote on the FCC rule.
If passed in the Senate the resolution would be sent to the House where Republicans hold a 236-193 and it would then have to be approved by President Donald Trump.
In December, the FCC voted 3-2 to roll back net neutrality regulations for companies like AT&T, Verizon and Comcast — and no longer treat the Internet providers like a utility.
At the time FCC Commissioner Ajit Pai criticized the rules, calling them a gross overreach and said their repeal would still allow regular access to the Internet.
“There will still be cops on the beat guarding a free and open Internet,” he said. “This is the way things were prior to 2015, and this is the way they will be once again.”
Schumer and the other senators argued if the protections were to be repealed consumers would be forced into paying inflated premiums for Internet access.
“Our Republican friends say ‘let the free market prevail,’” Schumer said Wednesday. “We don’t do that for highways.”
Sen. John Thune, R-S.D., published an op-ed on CNBC Wednesday, describing the 2015 net neutrality rules as outdated and calling on Democrats to negotiate bipartisan legislation.
“The Internet is too important for partisan politics. Congress must codify widely accepted net neutrality protections through bipartisan legislation,” Thune said. “Instead of crafting forward-looking solutions that protect internet users and promote innovation, however, Congress will spend the upcoming days on more political theater.”