Democratic Control: Senate Passes Resolution to Restore Net Neutrality

A protester holds a sign that reads "Resist the FCC Text: INTERNET To: 52886" at the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), in Washington, Thursday, Dec. 14, 2017. The FCC voted to eliminate net-neutrality protections for the internet. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)
AP/Carolyn Kaste

The Senate passed a Congressional Review Act (CRA) resolution on Wednesday that, if signed by President Donald Trump, would restore the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) net neutrality regulations.

The Senate passed the CRA, S.J. Res. 52, 52-47, featuring mostly Democratic support, although, Sens. John Kennedy (R-LA), Susan Collins (R-ME), and Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) also voted for the measure.

Sen. John Thune (R-SD), the Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee Chairman, argued that voting for the Democrats’ CRA resolution would restore regulations that would treat the Internet “as a public monopoly.”

Sen. Roger Wicker (R-MS) said on the Senate floor before the vote on Wednesday, “Today some in Congress are trying to give the government more control [of the Internet.]”

“We should reject these efforts,” Wicker added.

The Congressional Review Act allows for Congress to repeal an agency rule with only a simple majority in the Senate. Senate Democrats have pushed for a CRA vote in Congress’ upper chamber for months after FCC Chairman Ajit Pai passed the Restoring Internet Freedom Order in December, which repealed the agency’s 2015 net neutrality rules.

The vote comes as the FCC will let the net neutrality rules expire on June 11, reestablishing the Internet as a traditional “information service” compared to the utility-style rules established under Obama’s FCC in 2015.

Net neutrality passed under former Democrat FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler in 2015. The rule, known as the Open Internet Order, reclassified the internet as a public monopoly. Critics chided the rule, stating that it would diminish the freedom of the Internet. Proponents argue that the regulations prevent Internet service providers (ISPs) from discriminating against content providers.

Chairman Pai told reporters last Thursday that the FCC’s repeal of net neutrality will not harm consumers and offer Americans a cheaper and faster Internet experience.

“The effect of this will be better, faster, cheaper internet access and the free and open internet that we have had for many, many years,” Pai explained.

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) claimed in January that they have a 50-vote majority in the Senate. Forty-nine Democrats backed the CRA resolution to restore net neutrality, Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) revealed that she too supports the Democrat bill to bring back the Obama-era net neutrality rules.

A Collins spokeswoman told the Hill in January, “Senator Collins does not support the FCC’s recent decision to repeal net neutrality rules, and she will support Senator Markey’s legislation that would overturn the FCC’s vote.”

Christie-Lee McNally, the executive director of Free Our Internet, chastised Sens. Kennedy, Murkowski, and Collins for voting for the Democrat CRA.

McNally said in a statement on Wednesday:

Senators Kennedy, Murkowski and Collins did a disservice to all internet users today by selling out to Silicon Valley and siding with the Democrats. Their votes added fuel to the politically-driven effort to use the CRA in an attempt to reinstate the Obama Administration’s fake net neutrality rules passed to the benefit of the massive Big Tech information gatekeepers like Google and Facebook. The irony of CRA supporters clamoring for an open internet is that the biggest threats to an open internet are those corporations not subject to the 2015 net neutrality rules. To be clear, Google, Facebook and Twitter consistently violate the principles of net neutrality by blocking access to content, through censoring users on their near-monopoly platforms, by manipulating the information users can see, and by prioritizing certain information and services over others for competitive or ideological reasons. Shame on those Senators today who voted to allow for the continued mistreatment of consumers online because they were too afraid to stand up to Silicon Valley by demanding that open internet principles also apply to the very corporations that are violating them.

FreedomWorks Director of Policy Patrick Hedger wrote last week regarding the Senate Democrat CRA, “Senator Markey knows this CRA effort is nothing more than a show-vote during an election year. Even if it passes the Senate, it will not pass the House, and stands zero chance of passing President Trump’s desk.

Phil Kerpen, the president of the conservative American Commitment, argued in an exclusive statement to Breitbart News that net neutrality serves as a significant carveout for Google and Facebook and will only diminish the freedom of the Internet.

Kerpen told Breitbart News:

Senate Democrats have lined up in lockstep with the vision outlined by avowed Marxist Robert McChesney, whose group was cited 47 times in the Obama public utility Internet order: “The ultimate goal is to get rid of the media capitalists in the phone and cable companies and to divest them from control.”

They want to replace the wildly successful competitive, free-market approach that made the Internet with the public utility model that had municipal water, sewer, and transportation systems in a state of perpetual neglect – but to give a free ride to their friends at Google and Facebook that were completely carved out of the Obama rules. This political stunt vote will in the Senate will not result in any House action, and even if it somehow did would be stopped by a presidential veto.

Kerpen added, “So it’s really about political messaging – and the message is Democrats want a government controlled, heavily taxed Internet. Voters should pay attention.”


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