After months of effort and invoking rarely used legislative tools, the Senate Wednesday struck a body blow against the FCC and Ajit Pai’s dismantling of the open internet protections known as net neutrality.
The vote to protect net neutrality passed the Senate 52-47 with Republicans Susan Collins (R-Maine), Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) and John Kennedy (R-Louisiana) joining Democrats in opposition to the FCC’s stance.
Though it is unlikely to pass in the House and 52 votes is far too few to override the essentially guaranteed veto it would get should it make it to Trump’s desk, the victory in the Senate shows the power of people rallying with passionate and determined opposition to an FCC that has shown no shortage of disdain for them.
In order to reach Trump’s desk, Democrats first need 25 Republicans to even bring the Senate’s measure to a vote in the House.
Some Republicans attempted to sound pro-net neutrality while still voting to sustain the FCC’s dismantling of those policies, such as John Thune (R-South Dakota) who denounced it as a partisan political vote and not a solution.
Declaring net neutrality dead has been popular in headlines recently, including obituaries from Mashable and USA Today. That isn’t far from the truth, with today’s vote being largely symbolic in light of the steep and intractable opposition the Senate’s decision faces going forward. Open internet protections formally end on June 11. But that isn’t where the fight stops.
Wednesday’s vote is a springboard for the midterm elections, where the open internet is poised to be a major point of debate. And as USA Today’s obit for the open internet mentioned, states are also stepping up. Almost half the Attorneys General at the state level are suing to protect net neutrality, and Oregon has already passed legislation to keep net neutrality alive in the Beaver State.
— Governor Kate Brown (@OregonGovBrown) April 10, 2018
For now, the symbolic victory in the Senate is a reminder that the flame of net neutrality is still lit, and that the power of people to campaign on this issue isn’t the joke Ajit Pai thinks it is.
Katelyn Kivel is a contributing editor for Grit Post in Kalamazoo, Michigan. Follow her on Twitter @KatelynKivel.