The US Senate voted on Wednesday to save net neutrality. The chambers used the Congressional Review Act (CRA) to stop the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) decision to undo regulations regarding Internet usage set during the term of President Barack Obama.
The bill was passed with a 52 to 47 vote, with the Democrats and Independents receiving some surprising support from Republicans John Kennedy and Lisa Murkowski. The duo represents Louisiana and Alaska respectively. As expected, Republican Senator Susan Collins of Maine also voted in favor of net neutrality.
Collins had long announced her support for the CRA move, but Kennedy and Murkowski’s stand on the matter was relatively unknown.
BREAKING: Senate Passes Net Neutrality bill. All of the chamber’s Democrats voted in favor, joined by 3 Republicans: Susan Collins (ME), Lisa Murkowski (AK), & John Kennedy (LA). Final vote 52-47. https://t.co/NxVx86PfDM pic.twitter.com/x6exqSCZfq
— Countable (@countable) May 16, 2018
Kennedy later admitted to the Washington Post that it was difficult to make a decision but it all boiled down to who you were going to trust. As Kennedy explained, those who trusted their cable companies won’t be happy with his vote but “If you don’t trust your cable company, you will.”
Meanwhile, Murkowski emphasized in a statement that she’s still against some of Obama’s FCC’s regulations but understands the need to safeguard the rights of Internet users.
“I have voted to pass this resolution today so that we can reset the discussion and move beyond the politics at play here to what is really needed—lasting legislation that will provide certainty and move us beyond shifting regulatory standards that depend on who is running the FCC,” the senator explained.
Under the Obama administration, regulations prevented broadband providers from blocking, limiting or discriminating against lawful internet content. However, the FCC voted last December to disregard those rules. The FCC’s decision was slated to take effect on June 11, but the new Senate measure effectively blocks that order.
While the vote to block the FCC might be a major triumph for those supporting net neutrality, they still have a long fight ahead of it. For one, the bill still needs to be approved by the House and signed by President Trump.
This is where things will potentially get tricky, as net neutrality activists would still have to secure the support of more than 20 Republicans. This is despite having the unanimous support of Democrats. Meanwhile, the White House has been vocal of its support for FCC head Ajit Pai’s move to reverse the regulations set under the previous administration.
Net neutrality supporters remain hopeful, though. After all, President Trump has changed his mind several times on key issues. There’s also the fact that some Republicans might feel that siding against net neutrality could cause problems in the upcoming midterm elections.