Democrats Have a Plan to Save Net Neutrality That Will Force Republicans' Hand
The Congressional Review Act (CRA) allows Congress to reverse any federal regulation within 60 legislative days of enactment. On May 16, the Senate will vote on a Democratic Party initiative to stop Verizon shill and FCC chairman Ajit Pai’s net neutrality rollback. Part of this effort by Democrats is to force the Republican Party to face the world and say, in no uncertain terms, what their positions are on a free and open internet.
"By passing my CRA resolution to put net neutrality back on the books, we can send a clear message to American families that we support them, not the special interest agenda of President Trump and his broadband baron allies," Sen. Edward Markey (D-Mass.) said in an announcement today.
Republicans are pushing for weaker broadband regulations and have tried to discourage Democrats from pursuing the CRA vote. "Rather than voting for 21st Century rules to protect the Internet, we'll be taking a show vote on whether to look backwards and re-apply rules meant for the old Ma' Bell phone system to the modern Internet," US Senator John Thune (R-S.D.) wrote last week.
The Verge gives an easy-to-understand breakdown of what this move by Democrats means, and how it could make its way through to ultimately protect a free and open internet.
It’s hard to get anything through Congress without the approval of the Republican majority, which controls the committees and the broader schedule. But a CRA motion isn’t technically a bill, so it plays by slightly different rules. Senators can force a vote to be scheduled in their chamber by submitting a petition signed by just 30 members, which is exactly what Sen. Markey (D-MA) did on May 9th.
Crucially, the CRA also lets senators sidestep the traditional filibuster, requiring only a bare majority instead of the 60 votes increasingly needed to pass legislation through the chamber. Advocates say they already have 50 votes confirmed — all 49 Senate Democrats, plus Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) — and eyes are on Sen. John Kennedy (R-LA) or Sen. Dean Heller (R-NV) as a possible 51st. If either flips, the resolution will easily make it through the Senate.
Getting through the Senate might be the easiest part of this plan, as getting a majority of votes in our country’s Republican-led House of Representatives is no small feat. They can’t even agree on the things they say they agree on, for goodness’ sake. And if it were to pass through the House it would obviously need to be signed by the possibly still-unimpeached president of our country. However, the force we show now means something. The majority of people from all across the political spectrum believe in consumer protections for our internet, and these things will not be taken away without a fight.