WASHINGTON — With legislation to roll back net neutrality rule deregulation — the Save the Internet Act — having passed in the House last week, activists are looking to get enough Republicans on board to push it through that GOP-controlled body.
In the last Congress, before the Democrats regained control of the House, a legislative maneuver to roll back the deregulatory Restoring Internet Freedom Order narrowly passed the Senate with the help of independents who caucus with the Democrats and three republicans, Sens. John Kennedy of Louisiana, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and Susan Collins of Maine. It went nowhere in the then-Republican controlled House.
Fight for the Future (FFTF), which has been fighting to restore the Title II-based regulations against blocking, throttling, paid prioritization and a general conduct standard to get at conduct that does not fit under those, wants to get Murkowski and Collins on the record on where they stand in this Congress, since they have yet to sign on to the Senate's version of the Save the Internet Act. Kennedy reportedly has said he will vote the same way he did last time, which was to restore the rules, in that case by nullifying the Restore Internet Freedom Act that eliminated them.
But even if all three voted for the bill, that would leave a 50-50 split, with Vice President Mike Pence almost certain to break the tie by voting against it, since the Office of Management and Budget has advised President Donald Trump to veto the bill.
Evan Greer, deputy director of FFTF, says those three Republicans would at least be a start.
"If all three came out publicly, it could put pressure on others to join as well," Greer said. "Many moderate House members lost their elections, but there are still moderates in the Senate who could cross the aisle on this."
Greer also pointed out that Democrats could make the legislation an appropriations issue, as Hill paper Politico has reported. "[T]hen it's not a matter of whether GOP Senators are excited to vote for it, but more a question of whether it's the hill they want to die on, given that the party is out of sync with the overwhelming majority of GOP voters," she said.