After months of anticipation and protest, the Senate will vote on an effort to save net neutrality Wednesday.
The CRA vote will call on all senators to cast a vote on a bill that would be the first step in a Congressional effort to overturn the Federal Communications Commission‘s (FCC) decision last year to repeal net neutrality rules–which ensures that all internet traffic is treated equally.
Internet activists, who have pushed people online to contact lawmakers and demand support for the CRA, have said they are optimistic the CRA vote will pass in the Senate. It only requires a simple majority to be successful.
However, the fight to save net neutrality will continue to the House of Representatives, and potentially, to the desk of President Donald Trump.
“The time has come for Congress to undo the FCC’s decision to repeal net neutrality rules,” Sen. Bill Nelson (D-Fla.) said in a statement. “Will we stand with the American public, who understand why net neutrality is vital, or will we side with those who wish to control how we use the internet? The choice should be clear–the American public should always come first.”
Here’s what you need to know about Wednesday’s net neutrality CRA vote, which you can watch on C-SPAN here.
Net Neutrality CRA Vote
What is the net neutrality CRA?
Senators are using the Congressional Review Act as a way to overturn the FCC’s net neutrality decision. The tool gives lawmakers a small window to overturn a federal agency’s decision.
A CRA needs a simple majority during a full vote in both houses of Congress to pass. If both bills pass in Congress, the president’s signature is required to pass it.
In February, lawmakers and internet activists announced they would use the CRA as a way to overturn the FCC’s net neutrality decision.
The clock began running in earnest last week. Senate Democrats filed a “discharge petition” as part of the CRA effort, which forced a full Senate vote on it—which will take place on Wednesday.
Evan Greer, the deputy director of Fight for the Future, explained the CRA and called the vote “a huge moment where the entire internet comes together” while speaking with the Daily Dot on its politics podcast We’re All Gonna Die, last week. You can listen to the interview here:
What are the chances of the net neutrality CRA passing?
The CRA needs just a simple majority in the Senate and the House of Representatives to pass.
The Senate has taken the fight first. If they are successful, the House has a longer period of time to pass their separate CRA.
As of Tuesday, 50 senators have voiced their support for the net neutrality CRA, just one vote shy of reaching a simple majority. All 49 lawmakers who caucus with the Democrats and Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) have said they will vote in favor of pushing the CRA forward.
If no more Republicans announce support of the CRA before Wednesday the vote would be split 50 to 50, and Vice President Mike Pence would likely break the tie and kill the CRA.
However, the vote may not be an even split. If Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), who is currently away from the Senate receiving medical attention, is not present for the vote, the net neutrality CRA could pass by a 50 to 49 vote.
The odds of passing in the House of Representatives are longer.
Currently 161 lawmakers in the House have voiced support for the CRA. The count leaves them 57 votes shy of the 218 needed to secure a simple majority.
Rep. Mike Doyle (D-Penn.), who is a co-sponsor of the House CRA, told the Daily Dot late last month that “grass roots activism” could create a scenario where there is a “real shot at getting this thing out of the House.”
As for the possibility of the CRA reaching Trump’s desk, Markey said last week during a press conference that the “political firestorm” that would be created by killing an effort to save net neutrality could push the president into signing it.
“That would be, I think, a decision that would be debated internally and intensely inside of the Oval Office.”
- Senate Democrats officially kick off net neutrality fight
- The internet is going on ‘Red Alert’ to try and save net neutrality
- How net neutrality activists are going face-to-face with members of Congress
The net neutrality CRA fight outside of Congress
As lawmakers prepare to vote on the CRA, internet activists have tried to push them into supporting it.
Major websites like Tumblr, Etsy, PornHub, Reddit, Mozilla, OkCupid, Tinder, and more have been participating in a “Red Alert” protest. The protest directs users to a page where they can contact their legislators and ask for them to support the effort in both the Senate and the House.
Meanwhile, internet activists have created a scoreboard where they can see how lawmakers stand on net neutrality. The page directs them to ways to contact them.
Earlier this month activists also delivered a letter signed by small businesses to lawmakers across the country that urged them to support the CRA.