If You're Into Symbolic-But-Probably-Hollow Victories, the Senate Just Voted to Save Net Neutrality

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If You're Into Symbolic-But-Probably-Hollow Victories, the Senate Just Voted to Save Net Neutrality

Despite the cynical headline, and the near certainty of imminent defeat, this is actually good and meaningful: The U.S. Senate just voted 52-47 to reinstate net neutrality, which the FCC and its extremely odious leader Ajit Pai repealed against overwhelming public opinion and millions of critical public comments in December. The repeal is due to go into effect on June 11, but Democrats have staged one last intervention. Using the Congressional Review Act, which allows them to examine new regulations from federal agencies, they managed to force a vote on the issue. And with John McCain hospitalized, they needed just one Republican defector.

Instead, they got three—Susan Collins (Maine), Lisa Murkowski (Alaska), and most surprisingly, John Kennedy (Louisiana). Gizmodo has the full recap of the day’s events, which included Mitch McConnell whining about Democratic overreach, and a slew of blue Senators rebutting the GOP’s talking points. Murkowski and Kennedy were undecided as recently as Tuesday, but an organized pressure campaign seems to have done its job as they broke ranks.

Here was Kennedy’s rationale:

The problem now is that the House votes next, and the Republican majority means there would have to be even more defections—more than 20. It’s not impossible, but it’s a significantly higher obstacle than net neutrality advocates faced in the Senate. And even if they win the House vote, Trump would have the chance to veto.

The road ahead is not impossible, but it’s highly unlikely. That means net neutrality will go ahead for the time being, and it opens up the possibility that Internet service providers could create tiered Internet access at different price levels, limit website speed, or even block access to sites who won’t pay.

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