Fate of net neutrality put to vote next week

Ian Bush
May 09, 2018 - 3:57 pm

Dreamstime

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WASHINGTON (KYW Newsradio) — The future of net neutrality will be put to a vote next week in the U.S. Senate. 

Its fate is uncertain, but Democrats are forcing fellow lawmakers to say where they stand, with hopes of a payoff come Election Day. 

"People underestimate the passion of internet voters at their peril," said Hawaii Sen. Brian Schatz, adding that Republicans will regret backing the repeal of the Obama-era regulations. "You are either for a free and open internet or you are not. There's nowhere to hide, and there are no excuses."

The entire Senate Democratic caucus and one Republican have pledged to vote in favor of the Congressional Review Act, which would undo last year's move by the Federal Communications Commission. But passage in the House would be a tall order for Democrats.

The FCC and supporters have said killing the rules would spark competition among service providers to the benefit of consumers.

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer framed this fight as "us vs. them" — web surfers on one side; Comcast, Verizon and the Trump administration on the other. 

"They handed the large internet service providers all the cards, and left American families and small businesses helpless before these providers," Schumer said.

Republicans contend the rules depress investment in making broadband better. But Schumer said the government must step in to prevent free market abuses.

"We've learned through the years that average folks need some protection from the big boys," he said.

The Senate measure needs support from one more GOP member to pass, but the House would likely face a veto by President Donald Trump.

Still, the Dems may be looking to spin a political win out of a policy loss.

"They are mad and they want to know what they can do," Schatz said. "This vote will make things crystal clear."