Net neutrality bill clears procedural hurdle in Senate

A bill that would protect the Federal Communications Commission's (FCC) net neutrality rules from being repealed passed a key procedural hurdle by a 52-47 vote, clearing the way for a final vote Wednesday afternoon.

Three Republicans joined the 49 Democrats in voting to begin debate on the measure.

Democrats are forcing the vote using a legislative tool called the Congressional Review Act (CRA), which allows Congress, with the president's signature, to overturn recent decisions from federal agencies.

The Republican-controlled FCC voted in December to repeal the rules, which require internet service providers to give equal footing to all web traffic. Democrats argue that scrapping the rules will give ISPs free reign to suppress certain content or promote sites that pay them.

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“Soon, the American people will know which side their member of Congress is on: fighting for big corporations and ISPs or defending small business owners, entrepreneurs, middle-class families, and everyday consumers,” Senate Minority Leader Charles SchumerCharles (Chuck) Ellis SchumerOvernight Finance: Trump signs repeal of auto-loan policy | Justices uphold contracts that bar employee class-action suits | US, China trade war 'on hold' Free traders applaud Trump as China tariff threat recedes The Hill's 12:30 Report — Sponsored by Delta Air Lines — Frenzy over Kennedy retirement rumors | Trump challenges DOJ MORE (D-N.Y.) said in a statement last week when announcing that Democrats would be forcing the vote.

Democrats have at least one Republican on board with the bill in Sen. Susan CollinsSusan Margaret CollinsPressure rising on GOP after Trump–DOJ fight’s latest turn Trump's plan to claw back spending hits wall in Congress Dem rep to launch discharge petition to force net neutrality vote in House MORE (Maine). And with Sen. John McCainJohn Sidney McCainOvernight Defense: Pompeo lays out new Iran terms | Pentagon hints at more aggressive posture against Iran | House, Senate move on defense bill Senate GOP urges Trump administration to work closely with Congress on NAFTA Sarah Sanders: ‘Democrats are losing their war against women in the Trump administration’ MORE (R-Ariz.) home fighting brain cancer, it appears that they have the numbers to get the bill through the Senate.

Sens. Lisa MurkowskiLisa Ann MurkowskiKeeping Pruitt could cost GOP Congress, Trump in the fall Trump's plan to claw back spending hits wall in Congress GOP, Dem lawmakers come together for McCain documentary MORE (R-Alaska) and John KennedyJohn Neely KennedyMORE (R-La.) also voted in favor to begin debate on the bill, a sign that Democrats may have secured their support for the actual legislation. The Louisiana Republican had been evasive about which way he'll vote, telling reporters as recently as Tuesday that he was undecided.

But getting it to the floor of the House will be another matter. House Democrats will need 25 Republicans to join them in backing the bill in order to force a vote in the lower chamber.