Senate Votes in Favor of Saving Net Neutrality

The battle for the free and open internet is far from over, and now moves to the House.

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The first step to attempt to save net neutrality, via overturning the FCC's recent deregulatory decision by way of the Congressional Review Act (CRA), passed the Senate this afternoon.

The bill passed in a 52 to 47 vote, with Republicans Susan Collins of Maine, John Kennedy of Louisiana, and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska joining the Democratic caucus in favor. Now the matter will go to the House, where a simple majority will be required to send the bill to the White House for a signature or veto.

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This CRA maneuver, which allows Congress to overrule the decision of a regulatory body like the FCC and prohibit it from instituting substantially similar rules again, began shortly after the FCC's December 14 decision. However, the measure faces much longer odds in the House. , congressional support has been limited . Republicans hold a significant majority in the House.

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That said, more than 100 Republican representatives supporting the FCC's initial deregulatory decision, indicating there may be some wiggle room on the issue. And even if the bill fails, it will have forced representatives in both houses of Congress to weigh in officially on the matter. They'll have to do it soon: The CRA gives Congress a 60-day deadline from the initial publish date of the rules to act.

In the meantime, the fight for net neutrality continues at the state level. Both and have passed laws protecting net neutrality to various degrees. Other states, such as Montana, have begun to fight back with executive orders. A gubernatorial candidate in Michigan, meanwhile, has put forth a plan not only to protect net neutrality but also to introduce publicly owned broadband as an alternative to privately-owned ISPs.

None of these approaches is a panacea, and each will face its own uphill battles. If the congressional move to save net neutrality via the CRA fails, ISPs will almost certainly challenge state-level measures in court. During that interim, ISPs would be unrestricted by net neutrality regulations and free to do whatever they please, potentially establishing new, harmful norms elsewhere in the United States. If a particular approach is held up by the courts, however, it could be exported to other states.

In the meantime, it's up to the House.

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