Net Neutrality Bill Gains Enough Support to Force Floor Vote, but 17 Senate Democrats Still Uncommitted

Demonstrators rally outside the Federal Communications Commission building to protest against the end of net neutrality rules, December 14, 2017 in Washington, DC. (Photo: Chip Somodevilla / Getty Images)Demonstrators rally outside the Federal Communications Commission building to protest against the end of net neutrality rules, December 14, 2017, in Washington, DC. (Photo: Chip Somodevilla / Getty Images)

Open internet defenders in the Senate reached an “important milestone” on Monday when Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) announced she will co-sponsor legislation that, if passed, would overturn FCC chair Ajit Pai’s “corrupt and illegitimate” order to kill net neutrality.

McCaskill’s support gives the Congressional Review Act (CRA) resolution introduced by Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) the 30 votes necessary to force a vote on the Senate floor. The CRA gives Congress the power to pass a “resolution of disapproval” to nullify new regulations within a 60-day window.

Passage of a CRA would “repeal Pai’s repeal,” explains Dana Floberg of Free Press, which would leave the web “right back where [it] started — with strong net neutrality rules.”

McCaskill’s announcement — which was shortly followed by Sen. Cory Booker’s (D-N.J.) own declaration of support for Markey’s bill — was applauded by internet freedom advocates, who concluded that every other lawmaker should get on board or face serious electoral consequences.

“Internet users are angry, educated, and organized. We refuse to back down. Net neutrality is too important to the future of our democracy,” Evan Greer, campaign director of Fight for the Future, said in a statement on Monday. “Today’s news shows that lawmakers from both parties cannot hide from their constituents on this issue. Every member of the US Senate will have to go on the record, during a tight election year, and either vote to save the Internet or rubber stamp its death warrant.”

As Common Dreams reported last week, more than a dozen Democratic senators have thus far failed to go on the record.

With McCaskill and Booker co-sponsoring Markey’s resolution, that leaves 17 Senate Democrats — along with Angus King (I-Maine) — who have yet to make a commitment to defend net neutrality (see list below).

In a statement following McCaskill’s announcement, Matt Wood, policy director of the Free Press Action Fund, urged Senate holdouts to listen closely to the Americans who have “logged more than a million calls to Congress to reject FCC Chairman Ajit Pai’s decision to kill net neutrality.”

“Supporting net neutrality should be a no-brainer for members of Congress, whose constituents from across the political spectrum are united in their opposition to the Trump FCC’s attack on the open internet,” Wood added. “More and more lawmakers are recognizing this truth, helped along by the forceful outcry from the people they represent.”

If every Democrat signs on, Markey’s legislation will still need the support of two Republicans in the Senate and around 20 Republicans in the House to pass.

In addition to Sen. Angus King (I-Maine), what follows is an updated list of the Democratic senators who have yet to support Markey’s bill:

Tom Carper (D-Del.)
Bob Casey (D-Pa.)
Chris Coons (D-Del.)
Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.)
Joe Donnelly (D-Ind.)
Diane Feinstein (D-Calif.)
Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.)
Doug Jones (D-Ala.)
Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.)
Bob Menendez (D-N.J.)
Chris Murphy (D-Conn.)
Patty Murray (D-Wash.)
Bill Nelson (D-Fla.)
Tina Smith (D-Minn.)
Jon Tester (D-Mont.)
Tom Udall (D-N.M.)
Mark Warner (D-Va.)