Today’s the big day for the Senate’s big push to undo the FCC’s “Restoring Internet Freedom” order nullifying 2015’s net neutrality rules. A vote is scheduled for this afternoon on whether to repeal that order, though as of this writing the coalition is still one vote shy of making it happen.
The vote is an application of the Congressional Review Act, which as you might guess from the name allows Congress to review and if necessary undo recent regulations enacted by federal agencies. It’s been seldom used for decades but the current administration has been very free with it as a method of squelching rules passed in the twilight of the Obama era. Today Senate Democrats strike back with the same weapon.
A simple majority is required, but right now only a single Republican Senator, Maine’s Susan Collins, has courageously stepped across the aisle to join the Democrat-led effort. One more would pass the bill, though it would still have to get through the House and the president’s desk, making its prognosis poor.
That matters little, though: until today, many senators will have been able to largely stay silent on the issue, and a vote to support this highly unpopular rule may come back to bite them come midterms. Net neutrality may very well be an issue constituencies care about, or at least that’s what Democratic challengers are hoping for.
On the other hand, a Democratic-led CRA is a direct, partisan attack on the administration, which has supported this FCC’s actions, and would cause return to Obama-era rules, which few Republicans would relish.
Will any Republican senators see the writing on the wall and flip? Or will they stick to the party and leave it to be decided by a tie-breaker vote almost certain to go in their favor? Tune in to the Senate webcast to find out; the vote should happen around 3PM Eastern, but as always in government timing is only approximate.