A Senate bill reviewing the FCC’s recent decision to undo net-neutrality protections received its 30th co-sponsor this week, thus ensuring that it will come to a vote. Yesterday, Missouri senator Claire McCaskill signed on as a sponsor, giving the bill enough support to bypass committee review and make its way to the floor.
The bill, first pushed by Massachusetts senator Ed Markey, uses the Congressional Review Act to prevent the FCC from repealing the 2015 Open Internet Order (the policy that enshrined net neutrality as law). Essentially, the bill repeals the repeal. If the Congressional Review Act sounds familiar, it’s because Republicans used it early last year to dismantle FCC regulations that prevented ISPs from monetizing your online activity.
The odds of the bill passing the Senate, and then the House, and then being signed into law by the president are pretty low. But it does have the benefit, with less than a year to go until midterm elections, of putting the issue to a vote in Congress. “Republicans are faced with a choice — be on the right side of history and stand with the American people who support a free and open internet, or hold hands with the special interests who want to control the internet for their own profit,” Markey said in a statement.
In her own press release, McCaskill said, “The best way to ensure that access isn’t to eliminate those consumer protections in one fell swoop, but reach a bipartisan agreement that’ll finally give certainty to consumers and providers alike. Until Congress does that, this bill will simply revert to the previous consumer protections that have been upheld by the courts.”
Net neutrality has strong, broad bipartisan support among Americans, meaning that senators who lodge their opposition to it in the congressional record will eventually have to explain why they did so.