U.S. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) said he will force a vote on a bill that would reinstate the Federal Communications Commission’s net neutrality rules.
Legislation to reverse the repeal “doesn’t need the support of the majority leader,” Schumer said during a press conference Friday, according to The Hill. “We can bring it to the floor and force a vote. So, there will be a vote to repeal the rule that the FCC passed.”
Just a simple majority needed
The FCC voted to repeal its own net neutrality rules last week, and the repeal will take effect 60 days after it is published in the Federal Register. But Congress can overturn agency actions by invoking the Congressional Review Act (CRA), as it did earlier this year in order to eliminate consumer broadband privacy protections.
A successful vote in this case would invalidate the Federal Communications Commission’s net neutrality repeal and prevent the government agency from issuing a similar repeal in the future. This would force the FCC to maintain the rules and the related classification of ISPs as common carriers under Title II of the Communications Act.
A CRA vote lets Congress “undo regulations with a simple majority,” without the possibility of a filibuster, as a Washington Post story said in February. Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) announced a plan to file the CRA resolution last week.
“It’s in our power to do that and that’s the beauty of the CRA rule,” Schumer said. “Sometimes we don’t like them, when they used it to repeal some of the pro-environmental regulations, but now we can use the CRA to our benefit, and we intend to.”
The Senate’s Republican majority will be just 51-49 after Alabama Democrat Doug Jones is sworn in. Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) opposed the net neutrality repeal, raising the prospect of a razor-thin vote.
Still, the Democrats face long odds. While a few Republicans in the House of Representatives either opposed or expressed skepticism about the net neutrality repeal, Republicans have a 239-193 majority in the House. Finally, President Donald Trump could veto a CRA resolution even if it passed both the Senate and House.
Republican lawmakers intend to submit their own net neutrality legislation this week. A Republican bill could prohibit ISPs from blocking or throttling Internet traffic. But it might allow paid prioritization and would not include numerous other consumer protections that the FCC is throwing out.
Republicans fear the FCC’s unpopular action will result in a blue wave in the 2018 midterm election.