Senate Dems take to floor to rally against FCC chairman

Senate Dems take to floor to rally against FCC chairman
© Greg Nash

Senate Democrats on Thursday rallied against Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chairman Ajit Pai ahead of his pending reconfirmation vote.

The Democrats urged their colleagues to vote against the Republican agency head, railing against his opposition to the Obama-era net neutrality rules and his deregulatory record.

“In my opinion, the vast majority of the actions of Chairman Pai have served to eliminate competitive protections, threaten dangerous industry consolidation, make the internet less free and less open, and weaken critical consumer protections for those most vulnerable,” Sen. Bill NelsonClarence (Bill) William NelsonDoug Jones walks tightrope on Supreme Court nominee Overnight Defense: Fallout from tense NATO summit | Senators push to block ZTE deal in defense bill | Blackwater founder makes new pitch for mercenaries to run Afghan war Hillicon Valley: DOJ appeals AT&T-Time Warner ruling | FBI agent testifies in heated hearing | Uproar after FCC changes rules on consumer complaints | Broadcom makes bid for another US company | Facebook under fire over conspiracy sites MORE (Fla.), the top Democrat on the Senate Commerce Committee, said on the floor Thursday.

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A spokeswoman for Pai did not immediately respond when asked for comment.

Despite the opposition from Democrats, the Senate voted 55-41 on Thursday afternoon to limit debate on Pai’s confirmation vote, which is expected to come Monday.

Pai, who was tapped by President Trump in January to lead the FCC, is pushing through a repeal of the 2015 net neutrality rules, which require internet service providers to treat all web traffic equally. The FCC chairman opposes the rules, arguing that the agency overstepped its authority in the way it reclassified internet service providers as common carriers.

But Democrats see the regulations as an essential way to protect consumers and prevent service providers from playing favorites when it comes to internet speeds.

Sen. Ron WydenRonald (Ron) Lee WydenDems launch pressure campaign over migrant families Senators urge DOJ to probe whether Russians posed as Islamic extremist hackers to harass US military families Dems say new emails show Cohen ‘selling access’ to White House MORE (D-Ore.), another outspoken critic of Pai and his agenda, accused him of wanting to let the broadband and telecom industries regulate themselves.

"The fact is Chairman Pai’s track record demonstrates he is not in the consumer’s corner,” Wyden said in his own floor speech.