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 Nelson2020 party politics in Puerto Rico There is no winning without Latinos as part of your coalition Dem 2020 candidates court Puerto Rico as long nomination contest looms 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 WydenOvernight Health Care — Presented by National Taxpayers Union — Top Dems call for end to Medicaid work rules | Chamber launching ad blitz against Trump drug plan | Google offers help to dispose of opioids Top Dems call for end to Medicaid work rules after 18,000 lose coverage in Arkansas Overnight Health Care — Presented by National Taxpayers Union — Drug pricing fight centers on insulin | Florida governor working with Trump to import cheaper drugs | Dems blast proposed ObamaCare changes 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.