Effort To Save Net Neutrality Via Congressional Review Act Appears Stuck In Neutral
from the sisyphean-endeavor dept
Efforts to reverse the FCC’s historically unpopular attack on net neutrality using the Congressional Review Act (CRA) appear stuck in neutral.
The CRA lets Congress reverse a regulatory action with a simply majority vote in the Senate and the House (which is how the GOP successfully killed FCC privacy protections last year). And while the Senate voted 52 to 47 back in May to reverse the FCC’s attack on net neutrality, companion efforts to set up a similar vote in the House don’t appear to be gaining much traction as the clock continues to tick. A discharge petition needs 218 votes to even see floor time, and another 218 votes to pass the measure.
But so far, the petition only currently has 172 likely votes, all Democrats:
The House #NetNeutrality discharge petition is at 172 signatures. We?re 46 away from being able to force a vote on the resolution to restore the Open Internet Order. Has your representative signed the petition to #SaveTheInternet? Check here: https://t.co/zKI7sxSwGj
— Ed Markey (@SenMarkey) June 26, 2018
Again, not a single Republican in the House has signaled any interest in saving net neutrality. As we’ve long noted, the quest for a healthy internet free from anti-competitive meddling by telecom monopolies has long been idiotically framed as a partisan issue despite broad, bipartisan consumer support. ISPs and their numerous political proxy organizations have long enjoyed using rhetoric that only further fuels these divisions (derailing real consensus) by conflating meaningful consumer protections with a “government takeover of the internet,” ideas that are happily parroted by many ISP cash-loving DC lawmakers.
Undaunted, net neutrality activists held an advocacy day yesterday trying to drum up some additional support among lawmakers among a clearly debate-fatigued public. Another net neutrality group, Fight for the Future, has constructed this page to track which lawmakers haven’t signed on, while making it easy to contact those that haven’t.
That said, this effort was always an uphill climb. Even if the CRA vote succeeded in the House, it would have to avoid a veto by Trump. Many activists I’ve spoken to believe a vote in both Houses would appeal to Trump’s “populist” streak forcing him to bend to the whims of public consensus. But given Trump’s version of populism tends to be as authentic as a Hollywood Wild West set and as consistent as a brush fire, that prediction always seemed a tad optimistic. Still, stranger things have happened, so maintaining hope in the face of this level of corruption isn’t entirely outrageous.
That said, the best path forward for reversing the repeal is two fold. One, there remains a notable chance that the courts see the FCC’s fraud-riddled net neutrality repeal as the blatant, facts-optional nonsense it actually is, and reverses it for being an “arbitrary and capricious” abuse of procedural norms and the FCC’s obligation to represent the public. If that doesn’t work, there’s always voting in the the midterms and thereafter for a new breed of lawmakers that don’t mindlessly place ISP campaign contributions above the welfare of the public, the internet, and genuine, healthy competition.