Net neutrality activists rally to overturn FCC repeal

Net neutrality activists rally to overturn FCC repeal
© Greg Nash

Net neutrality activists are stepping up their pressure on lawmakers this week to support a bill that would vacate the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) decision to repeal its net neutrality rules.

On Tuesday, supporters are holding a net neutrality day of action to push for one more Republican senator to support the bill and become the tie-breaking vote needed to send it to the House.

The bill would use a legislative tool called the Congressional Review Act (CRA) to rollback the FCC repeal. The repeal order was published in the Federal Register last week, starting a countdown of 60 days for Democrats to find the tie-breaking vote on the bill. It currently has 50 supporters in the Senate, with 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) as the sole Republican in favor of it.

Evan Greer, an organizer with the group Fight for the Future, said that the goal of Tuesday’s demonstrations is to show lawmakers the popular support that the FCC’s Obama-era rules enjoy.

“We need to turn that public consensus into political power,” Greer told The Hill. “We are seeing this becoming less of a partisan issue in Congress, and that's because members are so consistently hearing from so many of their constituents and small businesses in their districts that this is something that matters to them.”

Even if the bill does pass the Senate, however, it will face an even steeper challenge in the House. But Democrats see a political upside in forcing a vote on the issue ahead of what’s shaping up to be a tough midterm cycle for Republicans.

Internet companies like Reddit, Etsy, Tumblr and Medium have signed on to Tuesday’s rally, as have advocacy groups like the American Civil Liberties Union and Common Cause.

Supporters will be targeting the district offices of Republican senators who they see as most likely to be swayed. That group includes Sens. John KennedyJohn Neely KennedyMORE (La.), Marco RubioMarco Antonio RubioWhite House makes push for paid family leave and child care reform Tom Hanks weighs in on primary: 'Anybody can become president' GOP senator blocks bill aimed at preventing Russia election meddling MORE (Fla.), Dean HellerDean Arthur HellerDemocrats spend big to put Senate in play This week: Barr back in hot seat over Mueller report Trump suggests Heller lost reelection bid because he was 'hostile' during 2016 presidential campaign MORE (Nev.) — considered the most vulnerable Senate Republican on the ballot in 2018 — and Rob PortmanRobert (Rob) Jones PortmanOn The Money: Trump, China announce 'Phase One' trade deal | Supreme Court takes up fight over Trump financial records | House panel schedules hearing, vote on new NAFTA deal Here are the Senate Republicans who could vote to convict Trump Lawmakers call for investigation into program meant to help student loan borrowers with disabilities MORE (Ohio).

On Capitol Hill, Democrats behind the CRA push will hold their own rally. Sen. Ed MarkeyEdward (Ed) John MarkeyUS must act as journalists continue to be jailed in record numbers Warren proposes 'Blue New Deal' to protect oceans There's a lot to like about the Senate privacy bill, if it's not watered down MORE (D-Mass.), Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) and Rep. Mike DoyleMichael (Mike) F. DoyleDemocrats demand FCC act over leak of phone location data Hillicon Valley: Google, Reddit to testify on tech industry protections | Trump joins Amazon-owned Twitch | House to vote on bill to combat foreign interference Reddit, Google to testify before House panel on tech's legal protections MORE (D-Pa.) will be joined by a coalition of advocacy groups outside the Capitol on Tuesday to call for Republican support.

“The internet doesn’t belong to big internet service providers and special interests who want to turn it into a toll road where consumers will pay more while the biggest corporations get to ride in the fast lane,” Markey, who’s behind the Senate CRA bill, said in a statement last week.

“With only 60 legislative days to find one more vote, I call on my Republican colleagues to join us and the vast majority of Americans who want the internet to remain free and open and a level playing field for everyone,” he added.