Senate Democrats Push for a Net Neutrality Vote. Do They Have a Chance?

Senate Democrats Push for a Net Neutrality Vote. Do They Have a Chance?


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Senator Chuck Schumer of New York, the minority leader, discussing net neutrality last week at a news conference on Capitol Hill. Democrats said Tuesday that they needed support from only one more Republican for the Senate to vote to restore net neutrality.

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Tom Brenner/The New York Times

WASHINGTON — Senate Democrats announced on Tuesday that they were one supporter away from winning a vote to restore the so-called net neutrality rules that the Federal Communications Commission rolled back in December.

But even if Democrats win that vote, Democrats have a long ways to go before they are able to reinstate rules that prevent internet service providers from creating fast and slow lanes for online users. Here is a look at their difficult road ahead, and some of the motivations:

What are the Senate Democrats doing?

Senate Democrats said on Tuesday that all 49 members of their caucus had agreed to sign on to a resolution that would overturn the F.C.C. repeal of net neutrality rules. They are using a tool of the Senate, the Congressional Review Act, which requires a simple majority to overturn a recent order by a federal agency.

The Democrats also have the support of at least one Republican, Senator Susan Collins of Maine. So that leaves them searching for one more Republican to join their effort to get the necessary 51 votes.

“Given how quickly we have gotten 50, we have a real chance of succeeding,” Senator Chuck Schumer of New York, the minority leader, said in a statement.

If this passes, are the rules automatically reinstated?

No. The House would have to pass a similar resolution, also using the Congressional Review Act, and the chances there are slim. Representative Mike Doyle, a Democrat from Pennsylvania, is leading the effort there and has 80 Democrats on board so far. But Speaker Paul D. Ryan, Republican of Wisconsin, could refuse to bring it to a vote. And 218 signatures would be needed to send it to the floor through a petition.

Finally, the president would have to sign the legislation. That, too, seems unlikely, since the White House has said it supported the F.C.C.’s vote.



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