Sen. Ed Markey (D-MA) and 32 other Democrats have submitted a new discharge petition under the Congressional Review Act, setting the stage for a full congressional vote to restore net neutrality. Because of the unique CRA process, the petition has the power to force a Senate vote on the resolution, which leaders say is expected next week.
The Congressional Review Act allows Congress to roll back regulations within 60 legislative days of introduction, a process that today’s resolution would apply to the internet rules introduced by FCC chairman Ajit Pai in December. Pai’s rules reversed the 2015 Open Internet Order, which had explicitly banned blocking, throttling, and paid prioritization by internet providers. To successfully undo the Pai order and restore the 2015 rules, today’s resolution would need a bare majority in both the Senate and the House, as well as the president’s signature.
So far, 50 senators have come out in support of the bill: 48 Democrats together with Sen. Angus King (I-ME) and Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME). Activists have targeted moderate Republicans like Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), Sen. John Kennedy (R-LA), and Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH) as a possible 51st vote. The 2015 net neutrality rules are still broadly popular, which activists hope will make members of Congress wary of voting against them.
Sen. Brian Schatz (D-HI) told The Verge he’s “hopeful” that the resolution will find a 51st vote in the Senate and proceed through the House. “We don’t know how this is going to end, but this is part of an effort to get every member of Congress on the record either supporting or opposing Net Neutrality,” Schatz said. “With this piece of legislation there is nowhere to hide and there are no excuses.”
The resolution has gained significant support from the internet community. Reddit, Tumblr, Etsy and other sites have put up Red Alert banners as part of a day of action to drive petitions in support of the resolution.