When Donald Trump’s Federal Communications Commission voted December 14 to eliminate net neutrality, Massachusetts Senator Ed Markey announced that he would lead a Senate fight to overturn the FCC’s move and restore what advocates correctly describe as “the First Amendment of the Internet.”
“We will fight the FCC’s decisions in the courts, and we will fight it in the halls of Congress,” declared Markey, who moved immediately to introduce a Congressional Review Act (CRA) resolution to undo the FCC’s “historic mistake.”
“With this CRA,” the Democrat who has long been a key congressional leader on communications issues explained, “Congress can correct the Commission’s misguided and partisan decision and keep the internet in the hands of the people, not big corporations.”
Markey made it clear in December that he intended to force the issue. But to do this, he needed at least 30 senators to sign on in support of his resolution. That’s the number of Senate votes that is required to discharge a resolution and move it to the Senate floor for a vote. That may have sounded like a tall order. But with the Monday announcement by Missouri Democrat Claire McCaskill that she would co-sponsor the measure, 30 senators were formally on board.
Then something remarkable happened.
McCaskill’s decision opened the floodgates, as almost a dozen additional senators rushed to sign on.
By Tuesday morning, the list of supporters included 40 Democrats and independents who caucus with the Democrats. Then a Republican, Maine Senator Susan Collins, announced that she would back the resolution. The move by Collins created a new dynamic.
Now, says Mark Stanley of the group Demand Progress, “If all Democrats support Senator Markey’s resolution to restore net neutrality—which already has over 40 cosponsors and is guaranteed a floor vote—then only one more Republican is needed to pass the Senate.”
This week’s developments have upped the ante considerably. So much so that Hawaii Senator Brian Schatz says:
After I saw millions of people fight for net neutrality [l]ast year I thought I understood the passion behind it. But the momentum for this legislation to save net neutrality has surpassed my most optimistic expectations. We can win this Senate vote.
Seriously? Yes, seriously.
When the FCC delivers the final rules to Congress, Markey’s CRA will provide a focus for intensive lobbying of senators of both parties and every idealogical tendency to reverse the damage done by the FCC.