Senate votes to reinstate net neutrality protections

By Daniel Uria  |  May 16, 2018 at 5:07 PM
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May 16 (UPI) -- The U.S Senate voted Wednesday to pass a bill reinstating the Federal Communications Commission's net neutrality protections, set to be repealed on June 11.

Democrats were able to force a vote using the Congressional Review Act, which allows Congress to overturn an agency move with a majority vote in each chamber and the president's signature. The bill passed 52-47, receiving votes from every Senate Democrat as well as Republican Senators Susan Collins of Maine, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and John Kennedy of Louisiana.

The bill still faces a vote in the House -- where it could encounter more opposition -- and will ultimately require President Donald Trump's signature, or enough support to override his veto.

Most Republicans argue repealing the protections, instituted by President Barack Obama's administration in 2015, in favor of more "light touch" rules, which FCC supporters argue provide consumers more choice by allowing them to pay for more tailored Internet packages.

Net neutrality supporters argue the protections are necessary to prevent telecom companies from engaging in unfair practices such as blocking websites, throttling traffic and allowing internet providers to favor one site over a competitor's or charge for better access.

Sen. John Thune, R-S.D., who has called for Republicans and Democrats to negotiate a legislative replacement to the FCC rules issued a statement condemning the vote as politically motivated.

"I'm disappointed but not surprised that Democrats rejected my offer to write, consider, and amend legislation in a process open to ideas from both sides of the aisle," Thune said. "Despite this vote, I remain committed to finding a path to bipartisan protections for the internet and stand ready to work with my colleagues on the other side of the aisle when they are ready as well."

FCC Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel, who voted to keep net neutrality protections in place in December, said Wednesday's Senate vote was a "big step to fix the serious mess the FCC made."

"Today's vote is a sign that the fight for internet freedom is far from over," Rosenworcel said. "I'll keep raising a ruckus to support net neutrality, and I hope others will too."

After voting 3-2 to repeal the net neutrality protections, which FCC Chairman Ajit Pai has described as outdated, the agency announced earlier this month they will be repealed beginning June 11.

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