Senate Dems searching for one last vote to revive FCC's net neutrality rules

  • Forty-nine Democrats and independents in the Senate plan to co-sponsor Sen. Ed Markey's legislation undoing the FCC's repeal of net neutrality.
  • Republican Sen. Susan Collins announced her support of Markey's bill earlier this month.
  • But the chances of the bill passing the House, or being signed by a president who doesn't support net neutrality, are extremely slim.
Sen. Bill Nelson (D-FL) (L) is flanked by Ed Markey (D-MA) and Tammy Duckworth (D-IL)while speaking about a Congressional Review Act (CRA) resolution that would undo action by the FCC and restore the 2015 net neutrality rules, on Capitol Hill January 9, 2018 in Washington, DC.
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Sen. Bill Nelson (D-FL) (L) is flanked by Ed Markey (D-MA) and Tammy Duckworth (D-IL)while speaking about a Congressional Review Act (CRA) resolution that would undo action by the FCC and restore the 2015 net neutrality rules, on Capitol Hill January 9, 2018 in Washington, DC.

Half the Senate plans to support a bill reversing the Federal Communications Commission's repeal of so-called net neutrality rules.

The new tally, revealed in a press release from Senate Democrats on Tuesday, brings the total number of declared votes against the FCC's recent action to 50 — a dead-even split in the chamber. Just one more vote would be enough to pass Democratic Sen. Ed Markey's bill in the Senate, which if made law would effectively restore Obama-era rules on internet service providers.

Markey's bill, if passed, would be a blow to a Trump administration seesawing between inflections of populist empathy and often starkly unpopular conservative policy.

But even if the bill does pass the Senate, it's still a long way off from becoming law.

The bill would also need a majority in the House, where Republicans command more seats. Whereas Republican control of the Senate has slimmed to a razor-thin majority of 51 seats, the GOP boasts 239 out of 435 spots in the House.

And, of course, the bill would need to be signed by President Donald Trump, who holds the constitutional power to veto any legislation that crosses his desk.

The chances of either event occurring are vanishingly small, despite net neutrality's relative popularity.

While net neutrality rules lost significant support in the months leading up to the FCC's repeal, Americans who favored the rules still strongly outnumbered those who opposed them. Some 52 percent of registered voters favored net neutrality, compared with 18 percent in opposition, according to a November poll from Morning Consult and Politico.

All 47 Senate Democrats — and both independent senators — are planning to co-sponsor the legislation, according to the press release. Republican Sen. Susan Collins announced her support of Markey's legislation earlier this month.

"When we force a vote on this bill, Republicans in Congress will — for the first time — have the opportunity to right the administration's wrong and show the American people whose side they're on: big ISPs and major corporations or consumers, entrepreneurs, and small business owners," said Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y.

FCC Chairman Ajit Pai in December struck down the 2015 rules, which prohibited internet service providers such as Verizon, Comcast or AT&T from slowing traffic to certain websites.

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