The U.S Senate will on Wednesday use the Congressional Review Act to vote on blocking or approving the repeal of net neutrality rules.Internet activist groups are trying to mobilize net neutrality supporters to lobby their senators ahead of the vote. (Fight for the Future).
The Congressional Review Act (CRA) is a legislative tool that allows Congress to block regulations made by federal agencies within 60 days from when they were passed. Republicans tried to use CRA during the Obama administration to block Environmental Protection Agency rules.
Now, net neutrality activists want Congress to use the CRA to block the Federal Communication Commission’s (FCC) decision to reclassify broadband internet as a Title I “informational service.” By doing so, internet service providers such as Verizon and AT&T will be able to prioritize certain online traffic over others, effectively ending “net neutrality.”
The fear is that ISPs will favor internet companies that pay them more, while throttling businesses that are unable to pay this sort of upfront cost.
All 49 Democratic Senators, and Republican moderate Sen. Susan Collins, support the Obama-era net neutrality policy, according to CNN, and are expected to block its repeal using CRA which only requires a simple majority. With Republican Sen. John McCain absent because of terminal illness, Democrats have a chance to block the FCC ruling by a 50-49 vote.
CRA will have a tougher time passing in the House of Representatives, which has 43 more Republicans than Democrats.
Net neutrality rules will end on June 11, according to FCC chair Ajit Pai, and will not come back unless one of the following happens:
- The Congressional Review Act move is passed by both houses of congress.
- Congress passes a law that reclassifies broadband internet as a Title II “telecommunication service” or protects net neutrality in another way.
- FCC reclassifies broadband internet on its own (Currently has a 3-2 Republican majority).