Senate Democrats push to block net neutrality repeal using Congressional Review Act

Sen. Maggie Hassan hears from employees of Stonyfield Farms and members of New England's farming community about how the repeal of net neutrality rules would affect their business

Broadband providers that serve home Internet users face little real competition, and are uniquely positioned to distort competition online by, for example, favoring particular websites and services for a fee. "For a small business like mine - and I think probably numerous small farms that Stonyfield is sourcing milk from - everything is internet-based now", said Roger Noonan, President of the New England Farmers Union. Telecommunications giants like AT&T and Verizon agreed with him.

Representatives from Stonyfield are anxious, among other things, that Internet Service Providers could start charging more for access to some websites and services. "But, they make their own decisions", he said while laughing.

Even opponents of the strict 2015 rules recognize that the continual legal and regulatory gyrations are a problem.

"It undermined investment and innovation, and posed a significant threat to the internet's continued ability to grow and evolve to meet consumers' needs", said a statement from Verizon senior vice president Kathy Grillo.

The Trump administration's repeal of net neutrality is set to take effect on June 11. On Wednesday the Senate is now formally scheduled to hold a vote to try and use the Congressional Review Act (CRA) to reverse the FCC repeal. But accomplishing that goal will be a tall hill to climb.

A CRA needs a simple majority during a full vote in both houses of Congress to pass. To do it, they must submit a disapproval resolution within 60 days after Congress receives the rule, excluding days when the legislature isn't in session.

However, the fight to save net neutrality will continue to the House of Representatives, and potentially, to the desk of President Donald Trump. While the FCC is an independent government agency, it is overseen by Congress. His office says Wednesday's effort to repeal the Internet Freedom Order is supported by every Senate Democrat, as well as Sen. They believe they can win if Arizona GOP Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) is ill and will not be present to vote, Schumer believes the measure will pass 50-49.

If Senate Democrats are successful in reaching the majority, the resolution will go to on to the GOP-controlled House of Representatives, where its passage would be more hard, according to CNN.

The Federal Communications Commission decided last week the rules - created to support a "free and fair" Internet - would expire June 10.

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"The FCC's repeal of those regulations doesn't mean that neutral practices will disappear", Ohlhausen said.

"I think we need to prohibit, through law, the prioritization of certain content over others".

If the new approach goes through, Pai said there would still be regulation of the Internet.

The new rules approved by the FCC will restore the classification of broadband internet access service as an "information service", among other things.

Ohio Republican Sen. Rob Portman did not return WKSU's requests for comment. Bob Latta backs the FCC's move.

What is the net neutrality CRA?

Ed Markey of Massachusetts, Bill Nelson of Florida and Brian Schatz of Hawaii said Monday they will lead their colleagues in forcing the vote Wednesday.

Next, the FCC is also required to provide a timeline for the new policy to go into effect.

Whether or not Congress acts, a group of 22 states including New York, Pennsylvania and Kentucky have filed suit to stop the change.

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