In December, the Federal Communications Commission's Republican members officially killed Obama-era net neutrality rules. It was the completion of a plan shaped by Donald Trump, who appointed FCC Chairman Ajit Pai to his current post last year.
The specific regulations, however, are still in place, though not for much longer: effective June 11, service providers will no longer have to treat all online content equally. Democratic proponents of net neutrality still act as if they have a shot at rescuing the policy before that deadline, and as the Washington Post reports, the first key step will happen on the Senate floor this afternoon.
The Senate is expected to vote Wednesday on a resolution that aims to undo a sweeping act of deregulation undertaken last year by the Federal Communications Commission -- and issue a rebuke to the Trump administration, which supported the FCC's move. [...]
If successful, the legislative gambit could restore the agency's regulations and hand a victory to tech companies, activists and consumer advocacy groups.
As a rule, the Senate's Democratic minority has very little power over what measures reach the chamber's floor for a vote, but in this case, the party is effectively executing a careful strategy.
To save net neutrality, Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) filed something called a discharge petition, which skips the committee process, and which enjoys the support of 50 senators. In this case, net neutrality is backed by all 49 members of the Senate Democratic conference, plus Maine's Susan Collins (R).
When the resolution, which would block the FCC's decision through the Congressional Review Act, reaches the floor, it cannot be filibustered. If it gets a simple majority, it passes. Barring any last-minutes changes of heart or unexpected absences, it's likely today's vote will succeed.
So is that it? Will net neutrality survive after all? Not so fast.