News and Press

Springfield Republican: US Sen. Ed Markey, Democrats file resolution to overturn FCC’s net neutrality ruling

By Shannon Young

After months of threatening to take action against the Federal Communications Commission’s repeal of Obama-era internet regulations, U.S. Sen. Ed Markey, D-Massachusetts, announced Tuesday that Democrats have offered a formal resolution to restore “net neutrality” rules.

The senator said he and others have filed a measure to undo the FCC’s ruling under the Congressional Review Act — which allows lawmakers to reverse federal agencies’ regulatory actions — as part of a national day of action on net neutrality.

Markey told reporters that all 47 chamber Democrats, independent U.S. Sens. Bernie Sanders, of Vermont, and Angus King, of Maine, and U.S. Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, have come out in support of the resolution of disapproval — putting the effort just one vote shy of passing the Senate.

With just 30 senators needed to force a vote on a resolution of disapproval, the Massachusetts Democrat contended that the CRA process will show where lawmakers’ loyalties fall on the issue of net neutrality.

“When we take this vote on the Senate floor, every one of my colleagues will have to answer this question: Whose side are you on? Do you stand with hard-working American families for whom the internet is essential?” he said during a Capitol Hill news conference. “Or do you stand with the big money, corporate interests and their army of lobbyists? Do you stand with the teachers, students, innovators, medical professionals and small businesses, or do you stand with the big broadband barons?”

Markey, who cast net neutrality as a “21st Century right,” urged activists and other opponents of the FCC’s ruling to stand strong and continue fighting back.

“We are on the right side of history and we cannot give up now. The FCC should stand for ‘fighting for consumers and competition.’ Under Donald Trump, the FCC stands for ‘forgetting consumers and competition,'” he said. “And today, we aren’t just waging a months-long campaign, this is a revolution.”

Broadband for America, however, contended that the CRA “would be a step backwards.”

“Everyone agrees that preserving a free and open internet for the future is an important goal, but Broadband For America does not believe that such a significant policy issue, which would affect virtually every American for generations to come, should be decided by an obscure legislative device that bypasses congressional debate and important input from the public,” it said in a statement.

The organization, which represents a coalition of consumer groups, companies and content providers, instead, called on Congress to “pass a substantive, bipartisan bill that makes net neutrality the law of the land and establishes 21st century rules for a 21st century internet.”

Although Markey pledged to introduce a CRA resolution shortly after the FCC’s 2017 ruling, he and others could not formally offer one until the agency submitted its final rule to Congress and published it in the federal register.

The FCC published its net neutrality rule last week, triggering a 60-day period for lawmakers to seek a vote on CRA resolutions.

In addition to Markey’s effort to force a vote in the Senate, U.S. Rep. Mike Doyle, D-Pennsylvania, has introduced a similar CRA resolution in the House.

That resolution had garnered support from at least 150 representatives as of Tuesday afternoon, according to Markey’s office.
Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey, meanwhile, announced last week that she and other AGs from acros the United States “are moving forward with (their) lawsuit against the FCC to protect the internet as we know it.”

The FCC approved the “Restoring Internet Freedom” proposal, which called for repealing Obama-era standards that subjected internet providers to Title II utility-style regulations, on a 3-to-2 vote during its Dec. 14 open meeting.
Supporters of the proposal said it was needed to address the “heavy-handed, utility-style regulation on internet service providers” the commission imposed in 2015 — rules which they argued led to a drop in broadband investment and stifled innovation.
Opponents, however, have raised concerns that the commission’s decision could lead to internet service providers slowing down, blocking online traffic or setting up internet “fast lanes.”