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Democratic senators force vote on net neutrality

Net neutrality

Forty Senators have signed on to co-sponsor a bill introduced in December by Sen. Ed Markey, D-Massachusetts, to disapprove the Federal Communications Commission's (FCC) rules ending net neutrality protections. 

Because the bill has surpassed its threshold of 30 sponsors, Markey can force the Senate to vote on his bill under the Congressional Review Act (CRA). This act gives Congress the ability to overturn new federal regulations with a joint resolution passed with a simple majority in both the Senate and the House, and the president would also have to sign the bill. 

"Last month, the Federal Communications Commission turned a daef ear to millions of Americans standing up for a free and open internet and instead gutted net neutrality," Markey said in a news conference Tuesday morning, flanked by several Senate Democrats also supporting the bill. "That's why we plan to fight these actions in the halls of Congress and in the courtroom." 

The bill aims to restore Obama-era net neutrality rules which were recently reversed in an FCC vote. The decision, led by FCC Chairman Ajit Pai, essentially undoes Obama-era regulations that protect a free and open internet. 

"Momentum is building, millennials, are energized they know the loss of net neutrality means the loss of control over the internet, which is oxygen to them," Markey said.  

While the Senate will now have to hold a vote to overturn the the rules ending open internet protections, it seems unlikely that Congress, with Republican majorities in both the House and Senate, would pass the resolution. But a vote in the Senate would put senators on the record in an election year.

Markey and his bill's cosponsors want to restore regulations that ensure that internet service providers, like AT&T, Comcast and Verizon, for example, treat all websites and online content equally. In December, the FCC voted along party lines to undo the Obama-era net neutrality rules.