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 CollinsPoll shows Collins displaces McConnell as most unpopular senator Collins says she's 'likely' to support calling witnesses for impeachment trial Democratic group plans mobile billboard targeting Collins on impeachment MORE (Maine) as the sole Republican in favor of it.

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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 RubioApple under pressure to unlock Pensacola shooter's phones Senators offer bill to create alternatives to Huawei in 5G tech Surging Sanders draws fresh scrutiny ahead of debate MORE (Fla.), Dean HellerDean Arthur HellerLobbying World Democrats spend big to put Senate in play This week: Barr back in hot seat over Mueller report MORE (Nev.) — considered the most vulnerable Senate Republican on the ballot in 2018 — and Rob PortmanRobert (Rob) Jones PortmanSenate approves Trump trade deal with Canada, Mexico Republicans brush off Trump's call for impeachment dismissal GOP leadership: There aren't 51 votes to dismiss Trump articles of impeachment MORE (Ohio).

On Capitol Hill, Democrats behind the CRA push will hold their own rally. Sen. Ed MarkeyEdward (Ed) John MarkeyOvernight Energy: Schumer votes against USMCA, citing climate impact | Republicans offer details on their environmental proposals | Microsoft aims to be carbon negative by 2030 Here are the 10 senators who voted against Trump's North American trade deal Schumer votes against USMCA, citing climate implications MORE (D-Mass.), Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) and Rep. Mike DoyleMichael (Mike) F. DoyleHillicon Valley: Trump turns up heat on Apple over gunman's phone | Mnuchin says Huawei won't be 'chess piece' in trade talks | Dems seek briefing on Iranian cyber threats | Buttigieg loses cyber chief House Democrats request briefings on Iranian cyber threats from DHS, FCC Hillicon Valley: Lawmakers say Facebook deepfake ban falls short | House passes bills to win 5G race | Feds sound alarm on cyberthreat from Iran | Ivanka Trump appearance at tech show sparks backlash 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.