Obama-era FCC counsel: 'American people will resuscitate' net neutrality bill in Senate

A former counselor to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) chairman under President Obama on Thursday said that Americans will “resuscitate” a net neutrality bill that Republicans have declared “dead on arrival” in the Senate.

“I just have to push back a little bit on this [claim the bill] doesn’t have a chance in the Senate,” Gigi Sohn, a Benton senior fellow and public advocate, told Hill.TV's Krystal Ball and Buck Sexton on “Rising.”

“I know what Leader McConnell said — I believe the American people will resuscitate the dead on arrival bill,” she continued, referring to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellOn The Money: Treasury rejects Dem subpoena for Trump tax returns | Companies warn trade war about to hit consumers | Congress, White House to launch budget talks next week | Trump gets deal to lift steel tariffs on Mexico, Canada Schumer calls on McConnell to hold vote on Equality Act House Dem cites transgender grandson in voting for Equality Act MORE (R-Ky.).

"What you must understand is that there is litigation going on right now to challenge the 2018 repeal,” she said, referring to a case that is challenging the decision to end the Obama-era rules on net neutrality.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia in February heard oral arguments from both sides of a lawsuit brought against the FCC by 22 state attorneys general, as well as consumer advocates and internet companies, including Mozilla.

The legal battle mainly centers around whether the FCC overstepped its authority in reclassifying internet service providers and in preempting states from substituting their own net neutrality rules. The lawsuit also questions whether the agency followed administrative procedure law in carrying out the order.

The court is expected to come out with a decision as early as this summer.

Sohn told Hill.TV she is hopeful that circuit court judges will rule in favor of pro-net neutrality advocates.

“I was at the five-hour oral argument and I think we have a really good chance of winning — if we win and the 2015 open internet order gets restored, I think that may bring the broadband providers back to the table,” she told Hill.TV.

But Sohn argued that internet service providers would be “better off” with the net neutrality bill rather than waiting to let the fight play out in the courts.

"They’re better off with this bill that puts in place the restrictions on what the FCC can do to broadband internet access providers — if they lose the case the FCC has more power to regulate them than if this bill passes.”

Sohn’s comments come after the House voted Wednesday to reinstate the net neutrality rules prohibiting internet service providers like Verizon or Comcast from charging websites for faster speeds and interfering with web traffic.

The bill doesn’t appear to have a chance of passing the Senate. McConnell has already said that the bill is “dead on arrival” in the upper chamber.

— Tess Bonn