A Senate bill that would reverse the Federal Communications Commission’s decision to repeal Net Neutrality received its 30th co-sponsor yesterday after Senator Claire McCaskill announced her supported for the bill via Twitter.
Senator McCaskill then became the 30th co-sponsor, which means the bill will definitely receive a vote on the Senate floor. The bill is being pushed by junior United States Senator from Massachusetts, Ed Markey. This maneuver would use Congress’s authority under the CRA.
The Congressional Review Act (CRA) was signed into law by President Bill Clinton in 1996. It allows Congress to review and potentially overrule federal regulations issued by government agencies. Since the FCC is an independent agency of the United States government, this looks plausible, at least on paper.
Lawmakers have 60 legislative days after the FCC submits its regulations to Congress to pass the Congressional Review Act. With enough support, this could help bypass committee review and go to the Senate floor, which if the bill is passed and signed into law, would annul the Federal Communication Commission’s vote and prohibit the agency from repealing Net Neutrality.
But, as it turns out, the entire ordeal is a bit of a paradoxical catch-22 situation.
Republicans are in control of the Senate and the House, so the bill may not even reach Trump’s desk. Even if a majority of the Senate votes to reverse the Net Neutrality repeal, it still needs a majority of the House and Donald Trump’s signature, Variety reports. The White House has already indicated, numerous times, that it supports the Net Neutrality repeal. President Donald Trump designated Ajit Pai as FCC Chairman and the majority of Republican representatives support the repeal.
Net Neutrality advocates have been actively campaigning to stop the repeal from happening. During the past months, websites like Reddit were flooded with pro-Net Neutrality content and links, but to no avail.
In a blog post analyzing Net Neutrality activism on Reddit, data scientist Michael Gardner and director of policy Jessica Ashooh wrote the following.
“Reddit users care about net neutrality, and the organic voting patterns we observed around these events showed it. Prominent national and international events often result in several links and self-posts on the front page. For comparison, at their peak, voting on Super Bowl and McGregor-Mayweather posts this year represented ~20 percent of front page votes. At the peak of these two net neutrality events, over 70 percent of front page votes went to net neutrality posts!”
According to a poll from the University of Maryland’s Program for Public Consultation, 83 percent of voters support Net Neutrality rules. Forcing Republican lawmakers to take an official stance on Net Neutrality, which concerns consumer protections, during an election year could pay off in the long run for Net Neutrality advocates.