US Senate Votes to Keep Net Neutrality, but an Uphill Battle Remains

Virginia Carson
May 17, 2018

The Senate has voted to kill a Federal Communications Commission rule that repealed the Obama administration's ban on internet providers blocking or slowing down certain content. "So much for the light-touch approach that helped the early internet grow", said Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell in a statement before the vote.

Cruz, who voted down the Congressional Review Act (CRA) forced to the floor by Democrats, told IJR that he's not concerned over Democrats using his vote against him or other Republicans up for reelection in the fall. The FCC decision to repeal the regulations was supposed to go into effect on June 11. But it does send a very strong message to the FCC, ISPs, and the Trump Administration, while forcing individual legislators to cast a vote on the record. The FCC's net neutrality repeal gave broadband providers extraordinary new powers to block websites, throttle services and play favorites when it comes to online content.

Republicans said they were willing to work with Democrats on enshrining the principle of net neutrality in legislation. That will still happen unless the House passes the bill and President Trump signs it by that date.

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"This vote was necessary to undo the Federal Communications Commission's (FCC) December 2017 decision to end net neutrality protections".

"Net neutrality is the free speech issue of our time", said Sen.

This move was expected and is generally far removed from the public debate on net neutrality. But they wanted to also ensure that regulatory efforts didn't get in the way of innovation and quickly evolving internet services. But net-neutrality advocates argue that smaller companies that don't have the money to pay for fast lanes could suffer. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska; Susan Collins, R-Maine; and John Kennedy, R-La. But the House isn't likely to take it up. "The most important vote we're going to have in this generation on the internet", said Democratic Sen.

"Net Neutrality is like naming something fuzzy bunny rabbit". However, she said, in many places, consumers do not have multiple providers to choose from.

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Kennedy told IJR that his "yes" vote came down to whether or not people could trust the cable companies to keep a free and open internet.

FCC Chairman Ajit Pai called the vote disappointing but added that "ultimately, I'm confident that their effort to reinstate heavy-handed government regulation of the Internet will fail".

AT&T said Wednesday it backs an open internet and "actual bipartisan legislation that applies to all internet companies and guarantees neutrality, transparency, openness, non-discrimination and privacy protections for all internet users". Twenty-three attorney's general have filed a lawsuit to stop the repeal of the rules.

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