The Senate voted 52-47 yesterday to overturn the decision late last year to end Net Neutrality rules. The Senate Net Neutrality vote was brought up under the Congressional Review Act, which allows a vote on regulatory changes within a limited time after they are signed into law.
Three Republicans – John Kennedy of Louisiana, Linda Murkowski of Alaska and Susan Collins of Maine – joined the Democrats in passing the resolution. The three complained of the status of broadband in their states, according to The New York Times.
The House is not expected to pass similar legislation, so there is little chance that the rules will survive their June 11 expiration date despite yesterday’s vote.
However, Republicans are considering a bill that would bring back some of the expiring rules, but without re-categorizing broadband providers as common carriers, the New York Times story said. That may be a non-starter for Democrats, however. Meanwhile, California, Montana, New York and Washington have put rules in place mandating that public contracts with broadband providers follow net neutrality rules. They have done this despite FCC instructions that states create no new rules.
FCC Reacts to Senate Net Neutrality Vote
Reaction at the FCC followed a predictable script. Chairman Ajit Pai stood by the ending of the Obama-era rules. “…[O]ur light-touch approach will deliver better, faster, and cheaper Internet access and more broadband competition to the American people—something that millions of consumers desperately want and something that should be a top priority,” he said in a statement. “The prior Administration’s regulatory overreach took us in the opposite direction, reducing investment in broadband networks and particularly harming small Internet service providers in rural and lower-income areas.”
Democratic commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel voiced the opposite viewpoint. “Today the United States Senate took a big step to fix the serious mess the FCC made when it rolled back net neutrality late last year,” she said in a statement. “The FCC’s net neutrality repeal gave broadband providers extraordinary new powers to block websites, throttle services and play favorites when it comes to online content. This put the FCC on the wrong side of history, the wrong side of the law, and the wrong side of the American people.”