The Senate just voted to save net neutrality! We have an uphill battle to fight in the House, but we can win. Here’s how:
This is huge. The US Senate just voted 52 to 47 to block the FCC’s repeal of net neutrality and restore protections that prevent Internet providers like Comcast and Verizon from controlling what we see and do online with censorship, throttling, and expensive new fees.
This vote is historic. And the fact that three Republican Senators ended up supporting it is a huge deal. Now we need to take the fight to the House of Representatives. Click here to contact your House members!
Lobbyists for big telecom companies are furious about the Senate vote today. They had hoped to use the “crisis” following the FCC repeal to ram through bad legislation that claimed to save net neutrality while permanently undermining it. Instead, we’ve got them playing defense, and you can tell they’re getting nervous.
Here’s the path forward: the Congressional Review Act (CRA) is somewhat of a blunt instrument. It allows our elected officials in Congress to overturn decisions made by federal agencies like the FCC with a simple majority vote in both houses. Assuming the CRA resolution passes the Senate today, we’ll need to immediately take the fight to the House of Representatives.
DC insiders and pundits claim that we’ll never get anywhere in the House. But … those are the same DC insiders that never thought we’d get a Senate vote today. Here’s how we can win:
In the House, we’ll need 218 lawmakers to sign on to a “discharge petition” in order to force a vote past leadership to the floor. That means we’ll need to convince all the Democrats, and about 25 Republicans, to support the CRA. And the clock is ticking — if the CRA resolution doesn’t get a vote this year, it dies when the new Congress comes into session.
Outside of Washington, DC, net neutrality is not a partisan issue. But with the Republicans in power, the big ISPs have been putting all of their eggs into that basket, spreading misinformationthat targets conservatives and trying to turn the net neutrality debate into a political circus. But we’re seeing cracks in that wall. Several Republican Senators have been openly considering voting for the CRA, while one of President Trump’s own high level advisors encouragedhim to support it should it arrive on his desk.
If we can seize the momentum around this Senate vote and mobilize massive pressure on the House, we could see a small landslide of Republican lawmakers who choose to side with their constituents rather than cast a vote against net neutrality just months before the midterms. Either way, we need to harness as much political power as we can coming out of this CRA fight to ensure that we’re negotiating from a place of strength in any future congressional debates on the issue.
We won’t have the benefit of a concrete deadline like we did with the Senate vote, so we’ll need to put tremendous pressure on individual House members, district by district, in order to get them to defy the ISPs and support the effort to restore net neutrality. We’ve seen that pressure from local small businessesis perhaps the single most effective method of influencing Republican lawmakers, so we’ll have to continue doing that, but on an even greater scale.
That means we’re going to need a dedicated corps of volunteers, signal boosters, and people spreading the word over the next few months. We’ll need to organize in-person protests and events, call-in days, canvassing efforts, online actions, and more. We can’t sit back and hope that politicians and big companies save net neutrality. Its future is in our hands.
Okay, I know this is already getting long, but there’s one more thing I need everyone to understand. Last week, Ajit Pai announced that net neutrality rules will officially end on June 11th, that’s in less than one month. But the fight does not end that day. Not by a long shot.
When the FCC repeal goes into effect on June 11th, “the Internet as we know it” will not suddenly die. Nothing will happen right away. Shills for big telecom companies will immediately start saying “See? The sky didn’t fall, guess we never needed net neutrality in the first place.”
The big ISPs aren’t going to immediately start blocking websites or rolling out harmful paid prioritization scams. Not while Congress and the courts are still deliberating. Not while major states like California and New York are considering legislation. Not while they know the whole Internet is poised to attack as soon as they break the rules.
Even if the ISPs get their way in the end, the Internet’s death will be slow. You probably won’t even notice it happening at first. That’s what makes it so sinister. But over time, there will be less innovative startups, less choice and diversity of opinion online, less creativity, more centralization, less awesome. We’ll also lose one of the most important tools we have for exposing corruption, challenging tyranny, and holding the powerful accountable.
But we’re not going to let that happen. We’ve turned net neutrality into a mainstream issue for the first time ever. And now we’re building a movement to make sure that we protect it for generations to come. The fight ahead is not going to be easy, but victory is within reach.