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 CollinsOvernight Defense: Senate bucks Trump with Yemen war vote, resolution calling crown prince 'responsible' for Khashoggi killing | House briefing on Saudi Arabia fails to move needle | Inhofe casts doubt on Space Force House Dems follow Senate action with resolution to overturn IRS donor disclosure guidance Senate votes to overturn IRS guidance limiting donor disclosure 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 RubioKevin McLaughlin tapped to serve as NRSC executive director for 2020 Senate votes to end US support for Saudi war, bucking Trump Senators offer measure naming Saudi crown prince 'responsible' for Khashoggi slaying MORE (Fla.), Dean HellerDean Arthur Heller How to reform the federal electric vehicle tax credit White House jumps into fight over energy subsidies One last fight for Sen. Orrin Hatch MORE (Nev.) — considered the most vulnerable Senate Republican on the ballot in 2018 — and Rob PortmanRobert (Rob) Jones PortmanDrug company to offer cheaper opioid overdose treatment after hiking price 600 percent The Hill's Morning Report — Presented by T-Mobile — Congress to act soon to avoid shutdown On The Money: Trump touts China actions day after stock slide | China 'confident' on new trade deal | GM chief meets lawmakers to calm anger over cuts | Huawei CFO arrested MORE (Ohio).

On Capitol Hill, Democrats behind the CRA push will hold their own rally. Sen. Ed MarkeyEdward (Ed) John MarkeySenate Dems urge Trump to continue nuclear arms control negotiations after treaty suspension Massachusetts is leading the way on gun safety, but we can’t do it alone Lobbying World MORE (D-Mass.), Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) and Rep. Mike DoyleMichael (Mike) F. DoyleDems to ramp up oversight of Trump tech regulators Twitter chief faces GOP anger over bias at hearing Live coverage: Social media execs face grilling on Capitol Hill 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.