The U.S. House still has an opportunity to side with the vast majority of the American public and overturn the Republican-controlled FCC's net neutrality repeal, but time is quickly running out.
With Friday, Dec. 21, marking the official deadline to restore net neutrality in this session of Congress, the House still needs 38 signatures to pass the Congressional Review Act (CRA) resolution that would reverse the FCC's deeply unpopular repeal, which was crafted by agency chairman and former Verizon lawyer Ajit Pai.
"Lawmakers have no excuse. Signing on to the CRA discharge petition is the clearest way to show support for real net neutrality protections. It's a simple up or down vote on the future of the free and open web."
—Evan Greer, Fight for the Future
According to Fight for the Future, 16 Democrats—all of whom are major recipients of telecom cash—still haven't signed on to the CRA. To pass, the CRA needs every Democrat and at least 22 Republicans to sign on before the Friday deadline.
The 16 House Democrats who still haven't signed on to the Congressional Review Act (CRA) measure to restore net neutrality protections are: Reps. Brandon Boyle (Pa.), Robert Brady (Pa.), G.K. Butterfield (N.C.), Matt Cartwright (Pa.), Jim Costa (Calif.), Henry Cueller (Texas), Dwight Evans (Pa.), Vicente Gonzalez (Texas), Josh Gottheimer (N.J.), Gene Green (Texas), Tom O'Halleran (Ariz.), Brad Schneider (Ill.), David Scott (Ga.), Kyrsten Sinema (Ariz.), Filemon Vela (Texas), and Pete Visclosky (Ind.).
View the full list of House members who have yet to back the CRA here.
"Lawmakers have no excuse. Signing on to the CRA discharge petition is the clearest way to show support for real net neutrality protections. It's a simple up or down vote on the future of the free and open web," Evan Greer, deputy director of Fight for the Future, said in a statement. "Any rep who doesn't sign is making it clear that they don't really support net neutrality, and would rather take money from big telecom companies than side with the overwhelming majority of voters from across the political spectrum."
On the one-year anniversary of the FCC's net neutrality repeal last Friday, Fight for the Future drove a digital billboard around the U.S. Capitol building for more than eight hours to shame and pressure holdout lawmakers to sign the CRA before it's too late.
The crowdfunded billboard displayed the names of every House member who has yet to back the effort to restore net neutrality, along with how much campaign money they've received from the telecom industry.
BREAKING: Today on the one year anniversary of the FCC repeal of #NetNeutrality, we're driving a billboard around DC naming and shaming every single member of Congress who chose telecom money over restoring net neutrality protections.https://t.co/ku8WN5gBSq pic.twitter.com/lqjtDYuJE4
— Fight for the Future (@fightfortheftr) December 14, 2018
Did you know @RepVisclosky has taken $120,200 from ISPs? He coincidentally has been instrumental in stopping our best chance to get #NetNeutrality back. Coincidence? Ask him at https://t.co/ePPtEHiwnj pic.twitter.com/rDWWh8APt9
— Fight for the Future (@fightfortheftr) December 15, 2018
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Fight for the Future's billboard action came after the group launched a website targeting Democrats who haven't supported the CRA.
"The internet still works. But unless something changes soon, either in the courts or in Congress, it might not work the same way for very much longer."
—April Glaser, Slate
The pressure campaign appears to be having an effect. As Gizmodo reported last Thursday, Rep. Mary Gay Scanlon (D-Penn.) announced that she will support the resolution to restore net neutrality after receiving a flood of calls from her constituents.
"A year after the FCC repeal, people are still pissed off and paying attention," Greer declared in response to Scanlon's announcement.
While right-wing opponents of net neutrality have predictably used the fact that the internet hasn't totally collapsed as evidence that the protections were never needed in the first place, Fight for the Future dismissed this argument as the "tech policy equivalent to 'Look, it's snowing outside. Climate change is a hoax.'"
"Don't fall for it," the group declared, urging net neutrality supporters to continue flooding the phone lines and email inboxes of their representatives.
Pro-tip: anyone who tells you "look it's been a year since the repeal of #NetNeutrality and the Internet still exists" is either:
a) desperately misinformed and technologically inept, or
b) a shill for Comcast, Verizon, and AT&T
Don't fall for it. https://t.co/ku8WN5gBSq
— Fight for the Future (@fightfortheftr) December 17, 2018
"The internet still works. But unless something changes soon, either in the courts or in Congress, it might not work the same way for very much longer," noted Slate's April Glaser. "Internet service providers stand to make a killing without net neutrality rules, since they can essentially operate a two-way toll, charging both subscribers for access to the internet and websites to reach subscribers at faster speeds."
Though the House CRA faces long odds amid opposition from telecom-funded Republicans and Democrats, Timothy Karr, senior director of strategy for Free Press, expressed confidence in a blog post that "this year without net neutrality is an aberration—and that the days of Chairman Pai's assault on the open internet are numbered."
Highlighting the crop of net neutrality backers set to take their seats in the next Congress, ongoing state efforts to develop robust open internet protections, and the legal battle against the FCC's repeal, Karr argued that "open internet supporters will win in the end. And that victory will come sooner rather than later."
"That's because people understand what's at stake," Karr concluded. "Without net neutrality, large phone and cable companies will take control of the stories we tell, deciding who gets a voice and who doesn't."