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The Senate’s big fight over net neutrality officially starts today

Photo by Amelia Holowaty Krales / The Verge

A group of senators has formally moved to overturn last year’s net neutrality repeal, now that the FCC’s new rules have been published in the Federal Register. Today, Sen. Ed Markey (D-MA) introduced a long-promised resolution of disapproval under the Congressional Review Act, which lets Congress strike down new rules with a simple majority vote. The bill currently has 50 supporters, putting it one vote shy of a majority.

Senate Democrats have been raising support for the CRA since last year, but the Federal Register publication starts a 60-legislative-day countdown clock for voting on it. The bill goes to committee for consideration first, but after 20 days, a group of 30 senators can force the Senate to put it on the calendar. Markey and his co-sponsors have more than enough supporters to force a vote this way, but to pass the resolution, they need to win over one more Republican in addition to Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME), who has already expressed support for the move.

Senate minority leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) called for more Republican support in a Wired editorial today. “Just weeks after giving the wealthy and multinational corporations a massive tax break, Republicans are adding insult to injury by once again picking CEOs over citizens,” he wrote.

The CRA is a long-shot legislative fix: if it gets through the Senate, it would need to pass the House of Representatives, where it has 150 of a required 218 votes. And President Donald Trump will likely veto the measure if it passes both houses. But pro-net neutrality groups have still lauded the move. The ACLU says it strongly supports an attempt to “undo the FCC’s evisceration of our network neutrality protections,” and Public Knowledge VP Chris Lewis says that “the CRA provides the fastest way to restore strong net neutrality rules that are wildly popular.”

The general public is still waiting for the new net neutrality rules — which let internet service providers block, throttle, or prioritize certain data — to kick in. While some will officially take effect on April 23rd, most are still awaiting approval from the Office of Management and Budget. But with companies confident that repeal is on the horizon, we’re already seeing the effects.