Senate Democrats Tout Procedural Move on Net Neutrality Rollback

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By Tara Jeffries

Leading Senate Democrats said Jan. 9 they are focused for now on undoing the Federal Communications Commission’s rollback of net neutrality rules with a procedural move, rather than trying to hammer out a bill with Republicans to codify rules.“Now, this is the time for this,” Sen. Bill Nelson (Fla.), the top Democrat on the Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, said at a press conference Jan. 9 about a resolution being championed by Sen. Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.) under the Congressional Review Act. Markey told reporters “it’s the time for a CRA.”The Democratic lawmakers’ stances likely mean the battle over the FCC’s December decision to scrap its net neutrality rules will play out in federal court for now. Public policy groups, some state attorneys general and leading technology industry associations have all said they would fight the FCC in court.

Congress can overrule agency regulations under the Congressional Review Act by voting to do so within 60 days after the regulations are published in the Federal Register. Markey said 39 other senators support his effort to use the CRA, more than the 30 lawmakers needed to force a Senate floor vote. That group included Democrats and independents but no Republicans, according to a list a Markey spokeswoman provided to Bloomberg Law.

Maine Republican Sen. Susan Collins also supports Markey’s effort to reverse the FCC move, a Collins spokeswoman told Bloomberg Law in an email.

Collins “believes that a careful, deliberative process involving experts and the public is warranted to ensure that consumers have strong protections that guarantee consumer choice, free markets, and continued growth,” Collins spokeswoman Annie Clark said.

Even if the GOP-controlled Senate adopts such a resolution reversing the Republican-controlled FCC, the Republican-controlled House is unlikely to follow suit.Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) said he backs Markey’s effort.

“If there were ever a clearer example of how this administration picks corporations over people, CEOs over citizens, multinational companies over small businesses, consumers, and startup companies, you have to look no further than the elimination of net neutrality,” Schumer said. He added that Democrats want to galvanize turnout in the 2018 elections among young voters who support their effort.

To contact the reporter on this story: Tara Jeffries in Washington at tjeffries@bloomberglaw.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Keith Perine at kperine@bloomberglaw.com

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