WASHINGTON – In a 52-47 note, the U.S. Senate passed Senate Joint Resolution 52 today, a brief statement which expresses “congressional disapproval” of the “rule submitted by the Federal Communications Commission relating to ‘Restoring Internet Freedom’.”
“Resolved by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, That Congress disapproves the rule submitted by the Federal Communications Commission relating to ‘Restoring Internet Freedom’… and such rule shall have no force or effect,” the resolution states.
The measure still must be passed in the House and then signed by President Trump before it would have the stated effect of invalidating the FCC’s order issued in January. Barring those occurrences, the order will still take effect in June. Still, Sen. Ed Markey, one of the sponsors of the resolution, quickly took to social media to tout the successful vote.
BREAKING: The Senate just voted to restore #NetNeutrality! We won.
To all of those who kept fighting and didn’t get discouraged: you did this. You raised your voices and we heard you. Thank you.
Now the fight continues. On to the House!
— Ed Markey (@SenMarkey) May 16, 2018
If nothing else, Markey clearly sees support of net neutrality as a winning political position, regardless of what (if anything) happens next with SJR 52.
“By passing my CRA resolution to put net neutrality back on the books, we can send a clear message to American families that we support them, not the special interest agenda of President Trump and his broadband baron allies,” Markey said in a statement released prior to the vote. “May 16 will be the most important vote for the internet in the history of the Senate, and I call on my Republicans colleagues to join this movement and stand on the right side of digital history.”
Markey continued in a similar rhetorical vein at a press conference held after the vote.
“’Do you support net neutrality?’ – every candidate in America is going to be asked that question,” Markey said at the press conference.
Markey was joined in championing the resolution by several of his Democrat colleagues, including senators Chuck Shumer, Bill Nelson and Brian Schatz.
“The internet should be kept free and open like our highways, accessible and affordable to every American, regardless of ability to pay,” Schumer said in the pre-vote statement released through Markey’s office. “The repeal of net neutrality is not only a blow to the average consumer, but it is a blow to public schools, rural Americans, communities of color and small businesses. A vote against this resolution will be a vote to protect large corporations and special interests, leaving the American public to pay the price.”
At the press conference on Wednesday, Schumer underlined the apparent importance of the issue to voters, as represented by the amount of feedback he and other senators have received from their constituents.
“People who use the internet all the time realize what this is about,” Schumer said. “Millions of calls, we don’t get that on every issue. People intuitively get this.”
The resolution rejecting the FCC’s order relies on the authority of Congress under the Congressional Review Act (CRA), but some observers say the CRA may not, in fact, provide Congress the ability to repeal the order.
“It is unclear, as a matter of law, whether the CRA can repeal an ‘order’ as opposed to a ‘rule’,” said Randolph May, president of the Free State Foundation. “If Congress wants to weigh in on net neutrality, it should not act inaptly, but rather affirmatively to adopt a law clearly embodying the policies and practices it deems appropriate.”
The question may be purely academic, as the resolution is considered unlikely to pass in the House.