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Democrats Officially Introduce Bills to Restore Net Neutrality

Or at least restore it as an election issue.
Sen. Chuck Schumer at Tuesday's rally. Image: Screengrab/Facebook

Standing in the sunshine outside the Capitol, Democratic Congressional leaders bantered, laughed, and made impassioned speeches Tuesday after formally introducing two bills to restore net neutrality.

“This is a road to digital serfdom and we are going to block it,” said Senator Ron Wyden (D-Oregon) during the rally. “We intend to keep fighting until real net neutrality is the law of the land.”

This move has been long-promised by Democrats, but couldn’t take place until the Federal Communications Commission officially published its net neutrality repeal. The FCC did this last week, opening the door for action both politically and legally. Once published, Congress has 60 days to introduce a resolution of disapproval under the Congressional Review Act. This would, if successful, overturn the FCC’s decision to scrap federal net neutrality rules.

Though both bills already have decent support behind them (50 Senators and 150 House Representatives have pledged support to the bills), neither has enough to actually pass—the Senate needs one more supporter, who would have to be a Republican, while the House needs at least another 68 supporters. Even if both sides are able to scrape together the votes, President Donald Trump would have to approve and sign the resolution for it to take effect.

Whether Democrats truly believe the bills have a chance of passing, if either or both bills fail, they will still achieve their broader goal: to cement net neutrality as an election issue ahead of this fall’s midterms. Having a record of who voted for and supported the first real attempt to undo the FCC’s repeal provides great fodder for Democrats who can blame net neutrality’s repeal squarely on the GOP. Net neutrality is widely popular—even the majority of Republican voters supported keeping the rules in place—so it could be a key issue come election day.

If somehow these Congressional Review Act motions are successful, the Democrats can claim a victory. If they fail, the Democrats can blame the other side of the aisle and use it as campaign fuel. Either way, it’s a win, which may explain all the joking and smiles at Tuesday’s rally.

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