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House Democrats are collecting signatures to force a vote on net neutrality

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Illustration by Alex Castro / The Verge

A coalition of House Democrats has begun proceedings to force a vote to restore net neutrality protections. The discharge petition, introduced by Rep. Mike Doyle (D-PA), allows the House to force a vote if half the representatives sign on, giving activists until the end of the session in January to collect the necessary signatures. They currently have 90, all from Democrats.

The resolution would roll back FCC chairman Ajit Pai’s recent internet order under the Congressional Review Act, effectively restoring the 2015 rules against paid prioritization and throttling. The resolution passed the Senate earlier this week but faces steep odds in the House: to win the necessary votes, more than 20 Republican representatives will have to break with their party and support the repeal. Even if the resolution does make it through Congress, it will require President Trump’s signature to take effect, which is a difficult hurdle given his historical opposition to the 2015 rules.

Still, activists believe net neutrality’s broad popularity could force House Republicans and even the president to change sides on the issue. Even if they don’t, many see the vote as a chance to force members of Congress to take sides ahead of a heated midterm.

“There is nowhere to hide, and there are no excuses,” said Sen. Brian Schatz (D-HI) after the Senate vote. “You are either for a free and open internet or you are not.”