Democratic senators invoke CRA to attempt reversal of FCC’s net neutrality decision

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Senator Charles Schumer of New York is leading an effort to overturn the FCC's net neutrality decision. (FCC)

The FCC may have successfully overturned the current net neutrality rules during their December monthly meeting, but a call from one of the top Democrat senators to repeal the decision clearly suggests that the battle over this issue has just begun.

On Thursday, the FCC voted 3-2 on party lines to reverse the 2015 rules passed by former FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler. Those rules, which were based on Title II of the Telecom Act, were designed to prevent ISPs from blocking or throttling network traffic.

Senator Charles Schumer of New York, the minority leader, said he would force a vote on the FCC action under the Congressional Review Act. Republicans were successful in doing away with internet privacy rules adopted under the Obama administration using the same procedural method.

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RELATED: FCC overturns current net neutrality rules amid commission, industry group protest

“There will be a vote to repeal the rule that the FCC passed. It’s in our power to do that,” Schumer said in New York, according to a Reuters report. “Sometimes we don’t like them, when they used it to repeal some of the pro environmental regulations, but now we can use the CRA to our benefit and we intend to.”

Unsurprisingly, Schumer’s actions are being met with opposition from ranking Republicans.

Mitch McConnell, Senate majority leader, does not agree with Schumer’s effort and backed the FCC repeal of the 2015 rules, a spokesman for the Republican said Friday. Reversing the FCC’s Thursday vote would require the approval of the Senate, U.S. House of Representatives and the president.

President Trump also backed the FCC action, the White House said Thursday.

Under the new FCC order, ISPs will now have the right to block, throttle or discriminate among internet content, but these actions require public disclosure of those practices. AT&T, Comcast and other large ISPs claim they would not interfere with how consumers access content online. The FCC rules also seek to bar states from imposing their own net neutrality requirements.

The rules would take effect once the White House Office of Management and Budget approved the new transparency rules, a process that could take several months.

Moody’s said in a research note that they don’t expect ISPs will be careful in how they work with consumers.

"We believe ISPs, namely Comcast, AT&T, Verizon and Charter, will tread lightly when it comes to engaging in paid prioritization and throttling, as there could be significant negative public reaction to these acts,” Moody’s said. “At least in the near term, the cost of negative publicity on their existing businesses far outweighs the benefit of additional revenue streams these companies can generate from paid prioritization agreements.”

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