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Democrats press Mitch McConnell to take up net neutrality bill

Democrats press Mitch McConnell to take up net neutrality bill


‘The Republicans are trying to bury this bill’

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Senate Lawmakers Address The Media After Their Weekly Policy Luncheons
Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Today, Sen. Ed Markey (D-MA) took to the floor of the Senate in an attempt to force a vote on a bill to reinstate net neutrality on the one-year anniversary of its reversal. “Under Sen. McConnell’s leadership, the Republicans are trying to bury this bill in a legislative graveyard,” Markey said, referring to the Save the Internet Act passed by the House in April.

Republican Sen. Roger Wicker (R-MS) blocked the vote, arguing that much of what Democrats warned would happen following the repeal has yet to take place.

On June 11th of last year, the Ajit Pai-led Federal Communications Commission’s rollback of the agency’s net neutrality rules finally took effect, clearing the way for internet service providers like AT&T and Verizon to throttle consumer access to the internet. In the months following that deadline, a number of network interference incidents have alarmed neutrality advocates. In August, Verizon slowed the Santa Clara fire department’s access during one of the most disastrous fires in California’s history. AT&T has given preferential treatment to its own streaming services and other telecom companies have throttled Netflix and YouTube access on consumer devices.

There have been a number of efforts to restore the rules and reinstate net neutrality. One ongoing lawsuit argues the FCC was unreasonable and capricious in repealing the rules, and hopes to reinstate the rules on those grounds. Congress has also proposed a number of measures aimed at codifying net neutrality in law.

Rep. Mike Doyle (D-PA), who chairs the Energy and Commerce subcommittee on technology and communications, has championed a number of these efforts. Last summer, Doyle attempted to reverse the Pai FCC’s repeal of net neutrality along with his colleagues in the separate chamber. The measure found success in the Senate, but fell short in the House. Now, he’s the main sponsor of the Save the Internet Act, that was overwhelmingly approved in the Democrat-led House of Representatives.

But Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) told The Hill back in April that the measure was “dead on arrival” in the Senate.

That’s why a group of Democrats took to the Senate floor today demanding that McConnell put the bill on the floor for a vote. Sens. Ron Wyden (D-OR), Ed Markey (D-MA), and Maria Cantwell (D-WA) noted that the Senate approved a measure nearly identical to the one in the House last year, but House rules only required a simple majority for approval.

Still, these lawmakers and advocates face an uphill battle. It’s clear that McConnell has no desire to take the bill up, and any floor speeches or letters from consumer advocacy groups probably won’t change his mind.