Most of the policy moves taken by the Trump administration in the short time that it’s been in place have been massively unpopular among the general population, with the nation’s leaders seemingly completely uninterested in actually sticking up for the interests of the Americans that they are supposed to be representing.
In that light, the Federal Communications Commission, as led by the Trump appointed Chairman Ajit Pai, moved to repeal net neutrality provisions that had been instituted in the closing years of the Obama administration. Net neutrality demands that internet service providers treat all web content equally; the fear on the part of consumers is over the question of whether or not ISPs will pass on to consumers some of the charges they are free to impose without net neutrality protections in place.
Pai and his allies weren’t concerned with this fear, instead dismissing it and paving the way for the interests of ISP heads to be advanced with their decision, made official in mid-December last year, after having been first announced earlier in the year.
Now, however, Democratic U.S. Senators are fighting back, with the “magic number” of 30 co-sponsors for a bill keeping net neutrality provisions intact having now been reached. Thirty co-sponsors is a “magic number,” because it means that a measure must be voted upon by the whole U.S. Senate and not simply relegated to a committee, from where it would almost certainly never return.
The thirtieth co-sponsor is Missouri’s Democratic U.S. Senator Claire McCaskill, who announced her decision to co-sponsor the bill — first introduced by Massachusetts Democratic U.S. Senator Ed Markey — on Twitter.
’30 is the magic number of cosponsors needed to get a
#NetNeutrality vote in the full Senate. Proud to be that 30th cosponsor of @SenMarkey bill to restore free and open internet.’
The measure that Sen. McCaskill signed onto as a co-sponsor is a resolution allowed under the Congressional Review Act, which lets Congress review regulations imposed by government agencies.
Sen. Markey announced his plans to introduce such a Congressional Review Act resolution in conjunction with the FCC making their decision official.
I plan to introduce a Congressional Review Act resolution that would restore the Open Internet Order and reverse the @FCC’s historic mistake of repealing #NetNeutrality. This fight is far from over. pic.twitter.com/FTyqf1U83X
— Ed Markey (@SenMarkey) December 14, 2017
Interestingly, Democratic Senators are here using one of Republicans’ favorite legislative mechanisms against them, with the GOP having used the Congressional Review Act to block a number of important regulations in the opening months of the Trump administration.
Although Republicans currently control both houses of Congress, making the passage of Sen. Markey’s measure difficult to imagine, it’s still relevant. In an election year, Republicans will now be forced to go on record either for or against net neutrality, something that Sen. Markey noted in a statement offered on the occasion of Sen. McCaskill’s announcement.
As Sen. Markey put it:
‘We’ve reached the magic number of 30 to secure a vote on the Senate floor, and that number will only continue to climb. Republicans are faced with a choice — be on the right side of history and stand with the American people who support a free and open internet, or hold hands with the special interests who want to control the internet for their own profit.’
Republicans certainly have an incentive to do anything they can to build their public image, with Democrats currently maintaining a clear advantage in generic Congressional ballot polling ahead of this year’s midterm elections.
Featured Image via Scott Olson/Getty Images