Net Neutrality Update: Senate Dems Push Ryan to Schedule Vote

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United States Capitol Building
Photo Credit: Elizabeth Lauten

On June 7th the U.S. Senate Democratic Caucus sent a letter to House Speaker Paul Ryan urging him to schedule a vote on the Senate CRA resolution to overturn the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) decision to repeal the agency’s 2015 net neutrality rules The CRA resolution was sponsored by Massachusetts Senator Ed Markey.

The renewed push by Senate Democrats comes as the net neutrality rules are set to officially expire on Monday, June 11th. In the letter—led by Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY); Senate Committee on Commerce, Science & Transportation Ranking Member Bill Nelson (D-FL); Senate Commerce Subcommittee on Communications, Technology, Innovation & the Internet Ranking Member Brian Schatz (D-HI); and Senator Ed Markey (D-MA)—Democrats emphasized the critical need to restore net neutrality regulations in order to keep the internet as a level playing field and to ensure that the choice of what content consumers experience online and the speeds at which they experience it stays in the hands of consumers, not those of big corporations and broadband providers.

In May, MassTLC, along with 40 Massachusetts industry leaders called on Congress to act and codify clear, comprehensive federal net neutrality rules. We will continue to push toward a free and open internet.

The text of the Senate Democrats’ letter to Speaker Ryan follows: 

Dear Speaker Ryan:

We write today to urge you to schedule a vote on S.J.Res. 52, a resolution to overturn the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) repeal of the agency’s 2015 net neutrality rules. This measure, which passed the Senate by a powerful 52-47 bipartisan vote, will restore internet protections and ensure consumers continue to experience a free and open internet.

The rules that this resolution would restore were enacted by the FCC in 2015 to prevent broadband providers from blocking, slowing down, prioritizing, or otherwise unfairly discriminating against internet traffic that flows across their networks. Without these protections, broadband providers can decide what content gets through to consumers at what speeds and could use this power to discriminate against their competitors or other content. Under this new regime, the internet would no longer be a level playing field. Instead, big corporations who could pay would enjoy the benefits of a fast lane and speedy delivery of their content to consumers while those who could not pay these tolls – such as startups and small businesses, schools, rural Americans, and communities of color – would be disadvantaged.

In issuing the 2015 net neutrality rules, the FCC delivered a message that the choice of what consumers can access online, and the speed at which they can access it, should be kept solely in the hands of those consumers, not the big broadband providers.  By passing S.J.Res. 52, the Senate affirmed that message and stood with the nearly 86 percent of Americans across the country who disagreed with the current FCC’s December 2017 decision to repeal net neutrality and fear its impact on their livelihood. Now that the Senate has taken this critical step, it is incumbent on the House of Representatives to listen to the voices of consumers, including the millions of Americans who supported the FCC’s 2015 net neutrality order, and keep the internet free and open for all.

As we approach the June 11th formal implementation date of the FCC’s net neutrality repeal, we strongly urge you to take up and pass S. J. Res. 52. It is essential that you take this step to protect middle-class families, consumers, farmers, communities of color, entrepreneurs and all who rely on the free and open internet.

Sincerely,

Senate Democratic Caucus