The drama surrounding net neutrality has taken on a new chapter; Democratic attempts to force a vote to overrule the FCC’s attempts to do away with net neutrality have worked, with the Senate voting 52-47 against the FCC. It’s a major, and somewhat surprising, victory, but it raises the question of what happens next.
This was done under the Congressional Review Act, or CRA, a bill that essentially lets Congressional leaders create a regulation to get rid of a regulation. Or in this case to create a regulation to get rid of a regulation that was designed to get rid of a regulation. Yes, government can be a silly nesting doll. Anyway, due to the structure of the CRA, it now has to move from the Senate to the House.
Will the House pass the bill? Good question. On the one hand, Republicans have spent years campaigning against regulations. But on the other, net neutrality is hugely popular when you poll Republicans on the question and a lack of net neutrality only hurts voters in most estimations. Add to this that no matter how deep the pockets of various internet service providers are, people still hate their guts, and one can see desperate politicians, or even ones just irked by how FCC head Ajit Pai has handled the situation, might sign on to at least have a vote. Still, that requires 25 Republicans to side with Democrats just to have a vote, let alone pass a bill.
Still, if it does pass, there’s one more potential obstacle: President Trump. Just where Trump falls on the issue is murky, to put it mildly. Pai is a Trump appointee, but one recommended by Mitch McConnell, who Trump has variable feelings about. Trump also claims to dislike regulations and anything Barack Obama did as president, but also seems to blow with the whims of his base. In short, net neutrality isn’t saved yet. But we’re a lot closer that we were before, and depending on how this goes, it may haunt the GOP as the midterms inch closer.