5/16/2018 — 

WASHINGTON, DC –  In a major move on behalf of consumers and free speech, the U.S. Senate today passed a Congressional Review Act (CRA) resolution overturning the Trump Administration’s repeal of net neutrality rules to preserve a fair and open Internet.  The measure passed the U.S. Senate on a vote of 52 to 47.  The CRA, which was strongly backed by U.S. Senator Jack Reed, was also supported by all 49 members of the Senate Democratic Caucus along with Senators Susan Collins (R-ME), Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), and John Kennedy (R-LA).  

Today’s vote on the CRA came several months after the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) divided commissioners voted 3-2 to repeal the 2015 Open Internet Order, which the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals had upheld in 2016.  The Open Internet Order prohibited Internet service providers from blocking, slowing down, or discriminating against content online.  The Trump Administration’s move to repeal these net neutrality rules could lead to higher prices for consumers, slower Internet traffic, and blocked websites.  A recent poll showed that 83 percent of Americans do not approve of the FCC’s action to repeal net neutrality rules.

“Today, the Senate took an important, meaningful step toward protecting fair, open, and free Internet access for all Americans.  I voted against erecting new toll lanes on Internet traffic and in favor of free speech, competition, and fairness when it comes to e-commerce,” said Senator Reed.  “The Trump Administration is putting private companies ahead of the public interest.  They want to hand giant telecoms more control over the Internet.  The American people have made it clear they don’t want don’t want more cost and confusion when it comes to the Internet.” 

Senator Reed has been a champion for protecting net neutrality rules.  Prior to the FCC’s vote in December, Reed joined his colleagues in sending a letter to FCC Chairman Ajit Pai urging the agency to abandon plans to repeal net neutrality.  Last December, Reed hosted an event at the Providence Public Library alongside leading Rhode Island teachers and librarians to discuss how repealing net neutrality could negatively impact Rhode Islanders, consumers, businesses, and democracy and put people who can’t pay for preferential treatment online at a disadvantage. 

Reed led a letter last December explaining the harmful impact repealing net neutrality could have on libraries and those who rely on Internet access they provide and has also spoken at length to colleagues on the Senate floor, urging them to join the efforts to push back against the repeal of net neutrality protections.

Today’s vote on the CRA occurred nearly a month before the June 12, 2018 deadline.  Now that it has passed the U.S. Senate, it must also be approved by the U.S. House of Representatives, where it faces an uphill battle.  The Republican-controlled House may try to quietly kill the measure by not even allowing it to be voted on.

Members of the  FCC have stated that the Obama-era net neutrality rules will expire on June 11.  However, a group of 22 states, including Rhode Island, have sued to try to stop the rollback of net neutrality protections.