In a surprising vote, the Senate just told Anjit Pai to take his giant “Reese’s” coffee mug and go for a hike. During a “closer than we’re comfortable with” vote that took place on Wednesday, May 16, the Senate voted 52-47 in favor of overturning the Federal Communications Commission’s repeal of net neutrality.
On December 14, 2017, the FCC voted to dismantle net neutrality, an Obama-era set of rules that ultimately kept internet providers from regulating the internet and throttling (or slowing) access to certain websites. The concept of an “open internet” was intended to ensure everyone had the same access to the same information regardless of location and ISP.
When the FCC, led by Chairman Ajit Pai, voted to kill net neutrality, the backlash was impossible to miss. YouTube creators voiced their concerns and panic over what a world without net neutrality could be like. Fear of censorship and an image of a Portugal ISP’s pay scale circulated, causing an outrage that stretched across Twitter, Facebook, and every other social media outlet.
The most recent vote is a step in the right direction, but it doesn’t guarantee that the FCC’s decision will be overturned. The vote still has to pass through the House of Representatives, which is controlled by Republicans 241 to 194. Public response to the FCC repeal involved plenty of threats to push out anyone that votes in favor of it, meaning those 241 Republicans and likely some of the 194 Democrats have a lot to consider.
FCC chair Pai in net neutrality vote: It’s disappointing that Senate Democrats forced this resolution through by a narrow margin. But ultimately, I'm confident that their effort to reinstate heavy-handed government regulation of the Internet will fail.— Chad Pergram (@ChadPergram) May 16, 2018
Is voting in favor of the FCC repeal worth risking their seat? And will it even matter in the long run? Even if it passes in the House, the reversal still has to be approved by President Trump, who has been vocal about his opposition to net neutrality. Trump does what Trump wants, but it wouldn’t be the first time he backtracked on a stance, so there is still a small glimmer of hope that net neutrality will still stand.
In the House, we’ll need 218 lawmakers to sign on to a “discharge petition” in order to force a vote past leadership to the floor. That means we’ll need to convince all the Democrats, and about 25 Republicans, to support the CRA. https://t.co/DZOg82qmQB— Fight for the Future (@fightfortheftr) May 16, 2018