Senate Democrats are Trying to Force Republicans to Vote Against Net Neutrality — Then Face Midterm Voters

Senate Democrats Battle to Protect Net Neutrality
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Senate Democrats Battle to Protect Net Neutrality
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photo: Phil Roeder (CC 2.0)

Democratic Senators have just rallied 50 votes in a desperate bid to preserve net neutrality.  That won’t defeat the FCC or Trump — but it could cost some Republicans their jobs.

Google, Facebook, Netflix, Amazon, and dozens of other tech giants are vowing to fight for net neutrality.  But Democrats in the Senate are also waging a counter-offensive.

Just this morning, the group of Democratic insurgents mustered the minimum votes necessary to potentially preserve net neutrality.  Right now, Democrats control 49 seats in the Senate.  By convincing Republican Susan Collins (R-Maine) to join their cause, the group has now rallied 50 votes.

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That’s enough to pass a resolution against the FCC’s decision to repeal net neutrality.  Importantly, a resolution cannot block legislation, though 51 votes can start the wheels on that process.

Right now, 50 votes is largely symbolic.

The reason is that Vice President Mike Pence has the power to decide ties in the Senate (it’s actually one of the few things a Vice President of the US has the power to do).  That makes this resolution largely DOA, though one more vote puts a pro-neutrality bill in front of the House — and makes this a much bigger deal.

Realistically, the Republican-controlled House would defeat the measure, leaving the FCC’s dismantling of net neutrality intact.  But Senate Democrats are sensing a serious campaign issue ahead, and are hoping to force Republicans to show their hand on the matter.

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Democrats are probably sniffing something big.  Poll after poll indicate that voters overwhelmingly favor net neutrality, and resent the FCC’s backdoor repeals and heavy-handed ISP monopolies.  In fact, the issue is so important that it could affect midterm elections, which might explain Collins’ decision to defect.

Just recently, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer noted that Democrats plan to make net neutrality a big part of their midterm platform.  So calling a vote is the perfect way to force Republican candidates to take a formal position against neutrality — and suffer the possible consequences.