Senate votes Wednesday on effort to reinstate 'net neutrality' rules

Zach Gibson  Getty Images file

Zach Gibson Getty Images file

Wednesday's vote comes ahead of the FCC date set for the end of net neutrality: June 11.

But their quest to retain the rules may be short-lived.

"May 16 will be the most important vote for the internet in the history of the Senate, and I call on my Republicans colleagues to join this movement and stand on the right side of digital history", he said in a statement.

"Americans will still be able to access websites they want to visit, they will still be able to enjoy the services they want to enjoy".

"The internet should be kept free and open like our highways, accessible and affordable to every American, regardless of ability to pay" said Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer.

"If farmers, who are operating on pretty small margins, now have to pay even more to get the kind of speed on the Internet that they need to be competitive, this could really be debilitating to them", Hassan said. Patty Murray, D-Wash.

Net neutrality is an issue that resonates among certain Democratic voters, particularly millennials who might be persuaded to turn out in greater numbers in November's midterm elections that may determine which party controls the House and Senate, where Republicans hold a 51-49 margin.

Nevertheless, Democrats are planning to enjoy the rare opportunity to strut a bit by holding a press conference after the Senate finishes voting today at around 3 this afternoon, which a source close to Markey said would also serve to highlight House Democrats' ongoing efforts. Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) has said lawmakers in that chamber are focused on designing their own legislation to "permanently address this issue", casting doubt on whether the Senate resolution can advance. John Thune, R-S.D. "It's about political theatre".

Chip Somodevilla  Getty Images FILE
Chip Somodevilla Getty Images FILE

Republicans like Rep. Scott Taylor of Virginia think Democrats are wrong on the policy of net neutrality, and that eliminating FCC rules will expand competition and consumer choice.

Representatives from Stonyfield are anxious, among other things, that Internet Service Providers could start charging more for access to some websites and services.

Current FCC chairman Ajit Pai, appointed by President Trump in January 2017, had voted against those rules, calling them heavy-handed, and shepherded through regulations that overturned them.

If it ultimately passed by Congress and signed by President Trump, the net neutrality rules that the FCC had in place since 2015 would be restored, after the agency's Republican majority voted in December to repeal them. Instead, it simply requires providers to disclose how they handle internet traffic.

Wednesday's measure is backed by all 47 Senate Democrats, as well as Senator Angus King of Maine and Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont, both Independents who caucus with Democrats and rarely vote outside their party lines, and Maine Republican Senator Susan Collins.

The House, however, has a much higher threshold. The count leaves them 57 votes shy of the 218 needed to secure a simple majority.

The FCC's effort to halt net neutrality also is facing a legal challenge in some states.

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