Senate votes to ditch repeal of net neutrality

Senator Richard Blumenthal speaks in favor of net neutrality on the Senate floor

Republican Sen. John Hoeven says we need to develop fair and open access to the internet without re-using Obama's net neutrality regulation.

The FCC approved in December the relaxation of net neutrality rules passed under the Obama administration, allowing much of the control to pass to the FTC under existing consumer protection regulation.

The Congressional Review Act allows senators that secure enough support to bring a vote to the floor, even without the approval of the majority leader in the Senate. Angus King of Maine and Bernie Sanders of Vermont, as well as three Republicans - Susan Collins of Maine, John Kennedy of Louisiana and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska. At issue are rules that the Federal Communications Commission repealed in December that prevented providers such as AT&T, Comcast and Verizon from interfering with internet traffic and favoring their own sites and apps.

If the overruling gets through the House of Representatives, then the last hurdle will be President Trump, who can either sign off on it, or veto it entirely.

Political commentators say that it's highly unlikely Trump will sign the resolution, because the White House backed the FCC ruling and he also signed a Congressional Review Act past year, overturning other FCC rules that implemented better privacy protection for internet users.

"This is our chance, our best chance to make sure the internet stays accessible and affordable to all Americans", said Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, a Democrat from NY.

He continued: "The Democratic position is very simple".

After the vote, a group of Democratic lawmakers from the House and Senate had a news conference praising the passage of the measure in the Senate.

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"The House Republicans don't have to choose the same path that the vast majority of Senate Republicans in the Senate chose", Schumer said during the news conference.

Later, Rep. Anna Eshoo, a California Democrat who represents Silicon Valley, said she was happy by the result in the Senate with the legislation. "The most important vote we're going to have in this generation on the internet", said Democratic Senator Edward Markey of MA, who sponsored the measure.

Eshoo responded: "Well we have a lot more to come, but so far, very good".

Under the original net neutrality rule, internet service providers were also banned from providing faster internet access and preferred services to companies for extra fees - so called "fast lanes". Instead of blocking the FCC's rule repeal, it suggested that policymakers work toward "bipartisan compromise legislation that will stand the test of time".

The US Senate approved a resolution that aims to undo the FCC's deregulation of internet services, the Washington Post reports.

"I think people realize how critical net neutrality is to consumers, to young companies", Markey said. "A vote against this resolution will be a vote to protect large corporations and special interests, leaving the American public to pay the price".

While Democrats recognize they are unlikely to reverse the FCC's rule, they see the issue as a key policy desire that energizes their base voters, a top priority ahead of the midterm elections.

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