As a growing number of websites are gearing up to "go red" on Wednesday to raise awareness about the closing window of time Congress has to restore federal net neutrality protections repealed by Republican regulators last December, Senate Democrats are preparing to force a vote on the matter as early as this week.
Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) is leading the effort to pass a Congressional Review Act (CRA) resolution that would overturn the GOP-controlled Federal Communication Commission's (FCC) party-line vote to repeal nationwide rules that barred internet service providers (ISPs) from limiting or blocking access to certain online content.
Markey intends to take the first step toward a full Senate vote on Wednesday, but Democrats have not yet said when precisely they intend to force a final decision on the resolution. However, lawmakers only have 60 legislative days from when FCC Chairman Ajit Pai's repeal plan was published in the Federal Register to void the rollback, meaning they face a June 12 deadline.
Acknowledging his plans to file a petition for a vote on Wednesday, Markey turned to Twitter on Monday to urge constituents to contact their members of Congress who have not yet pledged support for the CRA resolution.
On Wednesday, May 9th, we officially file the petition to force a vote. If you don’t see your Senators on this list, they need to know how you feel about #NetNeutrality TODAY. My resolution will *fully* restore #NetNeutrality & we only need #OneMoreVote to pass it in the Senate. pic.twitter.com/743YFCPkqU
— Ed Markey (@SenMarkey) May 7, 2018
"What net neutrality means is that everyone has the same access to the same information—that the internet remains free from corporate control," said Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) in a Facebook post on Monday. "At this moment when our democratic institutions are in peril, ending net neutrality protections would be devastating. I hope you will stand with me in keeping up the fight to defend net neutrality."
With the backing of every member of the Senate Democratic caucus—which includes Sanders and Sen. Angus King (I-Maine)—the resolution may already have the support it needs to pass that chamber, as The Hill explained:
With Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) absent as he battles brain cancer, the GOP majority is effectively capped at 50 votes. GOP Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) has said she will vote to restore the FCC regulations, which would result in a 50-49 vote in favor.
Democrats, however, are not counting on McCain's continued absence, and are maintaining pressure on their Republican colleagues to vote with respect to public opinion on net neutrality protections, which enjoy wide support from people of all political persuasions.
While net neutrality advocates seem cautiously optimistic about the upcoming Senate showdown, there is more uncertainty in the House, where the measure must garner the support of more than two dozen Republicans in order to pass.
"Even if it manages to make it through Congress, the CRA resolution would have to pass the president's desk where it would face even steeper odds," The Verge noted. "But even if Trump ultimately blocks the CRA effort, simply getting it to his desk would be a significant show of force for net neutrality advocates."
Although several governors, state lawmakers, and mayors have taken actions since December to restore net neutrality regulations at a local level, campaigners maintain that the resolution is the best way to ensure that strong open internet rules stay in place nationwide.
Fight for the Future, Demand Progress, and Free Press Action Fund have organized the "Red Alert for Net Neutrality" campaign to launch on Wednesday, as Markey files the petition for a vote. The number of businesses and individuals who have confirmed that they plan to participate continues to rise:
LATEST UPDATE: Momentum continues to grow for massive #RedAlert for #NetNeutrality actions kicking off this Wednesday. @Reddit @github @Pornhub and @salesforce are among the latest to confirm their participation: https://t.co/gmSp4bKdyz pic.twitter.com/Dssck0adeR
— Fight for the Future (@fightfortheftr) May 7, 2018