Federal lawmakers are fighting to undo a December vote by the Federal Communications Commission that repealed internet regulations known as net neutrality. They formally launched their plan Tuesday.
Senate and House Democrats introduced a Congressional Review Act (CRA) to reverse the FCC’s decision. They discussed their plan during a press conference timed with online and in-person open internet demonstrations Tuesday. Tech companies like Reddit, Twitter, Etsy, and others are participating in the protest.
Net neutrality protections governed the internet for many years and were officially codified into law by President Barack Obama’s FCC. In December, the agency’s new administration voted to repeal the regulations, which required internet companies to deliver the same speeds for all content, without slowing or speeding up specific sites. Last week, the net neutrality rule was published in the Federal Register, triggering counterattacks from Congress and state governments.
The Senate CRA authorizes Congress to block regulations written by federal agencies and only requires a simple majority of 51 votes. The resolution has support from 50 Senators — 49 Democrats and Republican Susan Collins. The House’s version of the resolution has 150 co-sponsors. Democrats plan to force a vote on the CRA in the coming months. Tuesday’s demonstrations are organized around the hashtag #OneMoreVote and aimed at convincing one additional senator to support the CRA.
The Pacific Northwest has emerged as a leader in the fight to preserve net neutrality. Washington Sen. Maria Cantwell and Oregon Sen. Ron Wyden were among the speakers at Tuesday’s press conference calling for support in the net neutrality battle.
“What about the information economy, where young entrepreneurs are creating the next device, the next business, but they can’t get off the ground because someone has made their connection slower … make no mistake about this. This is an economic empowerment issue,” Cantwell said during the press conference.
A bill to protect net neutrality for residents of Washington state is swiftly moving through the legislature. State Rep. Drew Hansen, the bill’s sponsor, told GeekWire he expects it to pass out of the Senate today and head to the governor’s desk. Attorneys general from Washington and Oregon also plan to sue over the FCC’s decision along with 19 of their counterparts across the country.