The FCC may have dismantled the rules that ensured a free and open internet on Thursday, but the battle to save net neutrality is far from over.
On a party-line vote, the three Republican FCC commissioners voted Thursday to dismantle rules put in place by former President Barack Obama in 2015 that kept internet service providers (ISPs) like Comcast, Verizon, AT&T, and others from monopolizing the internet. But because the FCC is a federal agency, Congress still has the final say in all decisions the agency makes.
The Congressional Review Act (CRA) which dates back to 1996, allows Congress to have the opportunity to review and possibly reverse any new administrative rule issued by any federal agencies within 60 legislative calendar days. Both chambers of Congress could come together and issue a joint resolution of disapproval before that deadline, and the resolution doesn’t require a filibuster-proof 60-vote hurdle in the senate, like most legislation.
There’s only one more legislative calendar day left in 2017 before lawmakers return home to their districts, and the 2018 legislative calendar issued by House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-California) shows the 60th legislative calendar day following the FCC’s net neutrality decision would fall on May 22.
This means Americans have roughly five months to call their member of Congress and ask them to support a joint resolution of disapproval with the FCC’s vote to gut net neutrality rules. And because May 22 falls just a few months shy of a pivotal midterm election in November of 2018, members of Congress will be especially wary of voter backlash.
However, one caveat of the CRA is that if Congress were to agree to repeal the FCC’s net neutrality decision, President Trump would have to sign off on that decision. Otherwise, he could veto the resolution and the FCC’s decision would stand. Because Trump made the decision to elevate Ajit Pai to chairman of the FCC and has opposed net neutrality since 2014, a veto of such a resolution is highly likely.
Obama’s attack on the internet is another top down power grab. Net neutrality is the Fairness Doctrine. Will target conservative media.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 12, 2014
That’s of course assuming that Donald Trump will still be president in five months.
Scott Alden is a freelance contributor covering national politics, education, and environmental issues. He is a proud Toledo University graduate, and lives in the suburbs of Detroit.