The Senate is expected to vote Wednesday on a resolution that aims to undo a sweeping act of deregulation undertaken last year by the Federal Communications Commission — and issue a rebuke to the Trump administration, which supported the FCC’s move.
The resolution targets the FCC’s vote in December to repeal its net neutrality rules for Internet providers. If successful, the legislative gambit could restore the agency’s regulations and hand a victory to tech companies, activists and consumer advocacy groups.
The congressional effort comes less than a month before the rules are officially expected to expire, on June 11. And the high-profile vote could shine a spotlight on lawmakers running for reelection during a tough midterm season.
Senate supporters of the FCC rules have put forward the legislation under the Congressional Review Act, a law that permits Congress to revisit — and reject — decisions by administrative agencies within a certain window of their approval. The resolution, or CRA for short, already has the backing of all 49 Democratic senators and one Republican, Sen. Susan Collins of Maine — enough votes that analysts expect the measure to pass the Senate on Wednesday.
“Today, we show the American people who sides with them, and who sides with the powerful special interests and corporate donors who are thriving under this administration,” said Sen. Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.), who is leading the CRA effort, on the Senate floor Wednesday morning.
But even if the CRA is approved, it is unclear what fate may await the measure in the House. Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) has said lawmakers in that chamber are focused on designing their own legislation to “permanently address this issue,” casting doubt on whether the Senate resolution can advance. And given the White House’s endorsement of the FCC’s repeal, analysts say, it is unlikely that Trump will sign the resolution to make it effective. (In one of his first acts of office, Trump last year signed a Republican-backed CRA overturning other FCC rules that established new privacy protections for Internet users.)
The net neutrality regulations, imposed on broadband companies such as AT&T, Verizon and Comcast in 2015, banned the industry from blocking or slowing down websites. The rules also prohibited those companies from offering websites and app developers faster, easier access to Internet users in exchange for extra fees — a tactic that critics described as digital “fast lanes” that could distort online competition in favor of large, wealthy businesses.
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