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 CollinsMcConnell privately urged GOP senators to oppose debt ceiling hike GOP senator will 'probably' vote for debt limit increase Welcome to ground zero of climate chaos 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 RubioThe Hill's 12:30 Report - Presented by Facebook - Dems attempt to tie government funding, Ida relief to debt limit Poll: Trump dominates 2024 Republican primary field Milley says calls to China were 'perfectly within the duties' of his job MORE (Fla.), Dean HellerDean Arthur HellerEx-Sen. Dean Heller announces run for Nevada governor Former Sen. Heller to run for Nevada governor Democrat Jacky Rosen becomes 22nd senator to back bipartisan infrastructure deal MORE (Nev.) — considered the most vulnerable Senate Republican on the ballot in 2018 — and Rob PortmanRobert (Rob) Jones PortmanOvernight Defense & National Security — Presented by AM General — Afghan evacuation still frustrates DHS chief 'horrified' by images at border DHS secretary condemns treatment of Haitian migrants but says US will ramp up deportations MORE (Ohio).

On Capitol Hill, Democrats behind the CRA push will hold their own rally. Sen. Ed MarkeyEd MarkeyWarren, Bush offer bill to give HHS power to impose eviction moratorium Overnight Energy & Environment — Presented by Climate Power — Senate Democrats ding Biden energy proposal Six Democrats blast Energy Department's uranium reserve pitch MORE (D-Mass.), Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) and Rep. Mike DoyleMichael (Mike) F. DoyleOhio Republican tests positive for breakthrough COVID-19 case Rep. Tim Ryan becomes latest COVID-19 breakthrough case in Congress NY Democrat tests positive for COVID-19 in latest House breakthrough case 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.