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A bill that would protect the Federal Communications Commission's (FCC) net neutrality rules from being repealed passed a key procedural hurdle by a 52-47 vote, clearing the way for a final vote Wednesday afternoon.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 SchumerTrump, GOP regain edge in Kavanaugh battle READ: President Trump’s exclusive interview with Hill.TV The Hill's 12:30 Report — Trump slams Sessions in exclusive Hill.TV interview | Kavanaugh accuser wants FBI investigation 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 CollinsGrassley panel scraps Kavanaugh hearing, warns committee will vote without deal Collins 'appalled' by Trump tweet about Kavanaugh accuser Poll: More voters oppose Kavanaugh’s nomination than support it MORE (Maine). And with Sen. John McCainJohn Sidney McCainTrump hits McCain on ObamaCare vote GOP, White House start playing midterm blame game Arizona race becomes Senate GOP’s ‘firewall’ 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 MurkowskiMurkowski says she’ll wait until Ford testifies before making decision on Kavanaugh Alaska gov, lieutenant gov come out against Kavanaugh The Memo: Tide turns on Kavanaugh 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.