Seventy-five days after the Federal Communications Commission voted to repeal net neutrality rules — and five days after the vote was published in the Federal Register — Congress has introduced a Congressional Review Act to block the FCC’s decision.
A CRA allows Congress to overrule agency rules within 60 days of publication in the Federal Register with a simple majority vote. As of Tuesday, the CRA is backed by all 47 Democrats in the Senate, two independents and one Republican. The measure needs one more Senator to sign on. In the House, the bill has the vote of 150 Democrats and needs 218 votes to pass.
“From the moment President Trump’s FCC made its move to repeal net neutrality, it’s been encouraging to see millions of people rising up to demand the internet remain free and open. Now, we need just one more senator to reject corporate interests and instead stand with the families, workers, small business owners, and students they represent,” Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., said in a statement. “I urge people across the country to keep up the pressure and remind their elected leaders to get behind the net neutrality CRA, because in our increasingly interconnected world, the FCC should be focused on maintaining the principles that have allowed the internet flourish: consumer choice, innovation, economic opportunity, and the free flow of knowledge.”
Sen. Maria Cantwell, D-Wash., spoke during a press conference Tuesday to coincide with the measure’s introduction alongside a handful of Senators in support of net neutrality.
“I know it can be as simple as someone placing an order online at Starbucks and going to pick it up in an expeditious way that all of a sudden is slowed down,” Cantwell said during the press conference. “But it could be as important as a physician at an emergency room getting data about a patient that’s coming in and is also slowing down.”
Cantwell said information is a critical tool whether someone is seeking an education, an advantage in commerce or trying to provide decent health care.
“Artificially creating two classes of people when it comes to data is the wrong idea for our country to move forward,” she added. “Make no mistake about this: This is an economic empowerment issue.”
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., has said he plans to force a vote in the next few months. If the CRA manages to pass the Senate and then the Republican-controlled House, it still requires the signature of President Donald Trump.