U.S. net neutrality bill gets enough Senate votes to advance

Senate Democrats say they have the votes to formally disapprove of FCC's Internet policy that will take effect next month. Here supporters of net neutrality protest the decision to repeal the Obama-era rule

Members of the U.S. Senate voted Wednesday to advance a bill that calls for a reversal of the Federal Communications Commission's recent decision to repeal net neutrality rules, setting up a potential vote in the House of Representatives.

Net neutrality supporters have argued that the Obama-era protections are necessary to protect consumers from "unfair" practices, including blocking websites, throttling traffic and engaging in paid prioritization, which allows an internet provider to favor one site over a competitor's or offer better access to companies that pay for it.

"I have heard from thousands of West Virginians who want an internet that is free of content-based discrimination and support increased reliable, affordable internet access throughout our state", stated U.S. Senator Joe Manchin. The current FCC moved to repeal them in a 3-2 vote past year, a move that sparked outrage and protests among many net neutrality supporters. Council's governance committee authorized further discussion of Councilman Manny Pelaez's proposal to require Internet providers that do business with the city not to block or prioritize traffic on their networks. John Kennedy (R-La.), broke with the rest of their party and voted for the measure.

Ohio Republican Sen. Rob Portman voted against the reversal. "Now, our grassroots movement has to push harder than ever to get this measure through the House and onto the President's desk". At least one Republican senator, Lisa Murkowski, remained undecided.

FCC Chairman AJIT PAI, who led the charge to reverse the FCC's course and end net neutrality after his predecessor TOM WHEELER's actions to regulate ISPs, was predictably displeased with, and dismissive of, the Senate action, releasing a statement saying, "It's disappointing that Senate Democrats forced this resolution through by a narrow margin". Without those, telecom companies could quash competition and free speech on the Internet - a response consumer groups warn is increasingly likely as Netflix and other streaming services eat up the telecoms' bandwidth. This brought the final vote to 52 Yea for reinstating Net Neutrality versus 47 for repealing.

Democrats were undeterred. They saw their effort as something that will energize young voters who value unfettered access to the internet. It also said last week that consumers demand strong and enforceable net neutrality rules on internet providers. We work to create open, honest, and accountable government that serves the public interest; promote equal rights, opportunity and representation for all; and empower all people to make their voices heard in the political process. Net neutrality advocates believe that the FTC's authority to do so is weaker than that of the FCC.

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