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A bill that would protect the Federal Communications Commission's (FCC) net neutrality rules from being repealed passed a key procedural hurdle by a 52-47 vote, clearing the way for a final vote Wednesday afternoon.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 SchumerTurf war derails bipartisan push on surprise medical bills Senate confirms Trump's nominee to lead FDA CEO group pushes Trump, Congress on paid family, medical leave 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 CollinsThe Hill's Morning Report — Sponsored by AdvaMed — House panel delays impeachment vote until Friday Senate gears up for battle over witnesses in impeachment trial McConnell: I doubt any GOP senator will vote to impeach Trump MORE (Maine). And with Sen. John McCainJohn Sidney McCainJeffries blasts Trump for attack on Thunberg at impeachment hearing Live coverage: House Judiciary to vote on impeachment after surprise delay Budowsky: Would John McCain back impeachment? 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 MurkowskiThe Hill's Morning Report — Sponsored by AdvaMed — House panel delays impeachment vote until Friday Senate gears up for battle over witnesses in impeachment trial McConnell: I doubt any GOP senator will vote to impeach Trump 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.