Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

Today is the LAST DAY of this Mid-Year Campaign. This is our hour of need.
If you value independent journalism, please support Common Dreams.

TODAY is the last day to meet our goal -- Join the small group of generous readers who donate, keeping Common Dreams free for millions of people each year.

At one of hundreds of protests last week, net neutrality supporters in New York City demanded that the FCC abandon its plan to repeal net neutrality protections. (Photo: TeamInternet/Flickr/cc)

Warning Against Abdication of Duty, Senators Demand FCC Abandon Net Neutrality Vote

Ajit Pai's plan would leave the U.S. with a "gaping consumer protection void," say 39 senators

Julia Conley

Thirty-seven Democratic senators, along with Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Sen. Angus King (I-Maine), sent a letter (pdf) to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) on Tuesday, urging the panel to abandon its "reckless plan to radically alter the free and open Internet as we know it."

If pushed through, the letter warns, the move, spearheaded by Trump's FCC chairman Ajit Pai, "would amount to the largest abdication of [the agency's] statutory responsibilities in history."
 
The lawmakers argued that Pai's plan to gut net neutrality regulations represents an abandonment of its "primary responsibility to protect consumers and the public interest with respect to the nation's communications networks."
 
"In short, you are walking away from your statutory duties and effectively eliminating FCC oversight over high-speed internet access," wrote the senators.

In the House, after hearing from many of his constituents on the issue, Rep. Mike Coffman (R-Colo.) became the first Republican to ask Pai to delay the vote and allow Congress to hold hearings on the issue, while Rep. Mike Doyle (D-Penn.) vowed to introduce a bill after the FCC's vote, to roll back Pai's new net neutrality policy.

Pai has proposed repealing Obama-era net neutrality regulations which prohibit Internet service providers (ISPs) from discriminating against web content. Without the rules, ISPs like Verizon, Time Warner, and Comcast would be able to offer a "fast lane" for wealthy Internet companies like Google and Facebook, allowing their content to reach users more quickly.

If the FCC, which consists of three Republican commissioners and two Democrats, adopts Pai's proposal on Thursday, the panel will permit ISPs "to freely block, slow down, or manipulate a consumer's access to the internet as long as it discloses those practices—no matter how anti-consumer—somewhere within the mounds of legalese in a new 'net neutrality' policy," wrote the senators.

The new rules would also prevent states from implementing their own regulations, resulting in what the Democrats called a "gaping consumer protection void."

In recent days, Pai has been dismissive of net neutrality supporters' concerns over his proposal, calling dozens of consumer advocacy groups and the City of New York "desperate" after they sent him a letter about the vote last week. The groups urged him to delay the decision until a court case involving the Federal Trade Commission (FTC)'s right to sue telecom companies that mislead the public—including over net neutrality issues.

The FCC chair has also refused to turn over information to New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, who's opened an investigation into whether fake comments were left on the FCC's website during its public comment period on net neutrality. FCC commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel, a Democrat who supports open internet rules, has urged Pai to delay the vote until that inquiry is complete.


Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.

TODAY is the last day of our crucial Mid-Year Campaign and we might not make it without your help.
Who funds our independent journalism? Readers like you who believe in our mission: To inform. To inspire. To ignite change for the common good. No corporate advertisers. No billionaire founder. Our non-partisan, nonprofit media model has only one source of revenue: The people who read and value this work and our mission. That's it.
And the model is simple: If everyone just gives whatever amount they can afford and think is reasonable—$3, $9, $29, or more—we can continue. If not enough do, we go dark.

All the small gifts add up to something otherwise impossible. Please join us today. Donate to Common Dreams. This is crunch time. We need you now.

Texas Supreme Court Allows Century-Old Abortion Ban to Take Effect

"Extremist politicians are on a crusade to force Texans into pregnancy and childbirth against their will, no matter how devastating the consequences."

Jake Johnson ·


'What's There to Even Discuss?' Omar Says Free, Universal School Meals Should Be Permanent

"We have an opportunity to prove that a government of the people, by the people, and for the people can still deliver big things. And we can feed tens of millions of hungry kids while we do it."

Jake Johnson ·


'Stark Betrayal': Biden Administration Floats New Offshore Oil and Gas Drilling

"This is the third time since November the Biden administration has announced new oil and gas leasing plans on the Friday before a holiday," said one climate advocate. "They're ashamed, and they should be."

Jake Johnson ·


As US Rolls Back Reproductive Rights, Sierra Leone Moves to Decriminalize Abortion

"I'm hopeful today's announcement gives activists in the U.S., and especially Black women given the shared history, a restored faith that change is possible and progress can be made."

Brett Wilkins ·


'Indefensible': Outrage as New Reporting Shines Light on Biden Deal With McConnell

The president has reportedly agreed to nominate an anti-abortion Republican to a lifetime judgeship. In exchange, McConnell has vowed to stop blocking two Biden picks for term-limited U.S. attorney posts.

Jake Johnson ·

Common Dreams Logo