Democrats in the United States Senate have gathered enough support to use the Congressional Review Act to force an official vote on the FCC's repeal of Net Neutrality rules, according to a Tweet from Senator Ed Markey. In addition to garnering the support of 30 US Senators, all Democratic, Markey's spearheaded support effort also plans to call attention to a petition bearing upward of 194,000 signatures and counting, asking Congress to reject the FCC's vote and restore Net Neutrality laws. Senator Claire McCaskill was the key 30th vote that allowed the action to pass, forcing a vote on the Senate floor at an undetermined time. It's worth noting that no Republican Senators are on the list of the first 30 to vote in support of the action, though Republican Senator Susan Collins has stated that she plans to vote against the repeal. If all of the Senate's Democrats vote against the repeal along with Senator Collins, only one more Republican vote will be needed to overturn the FCC's action.
Most Republican Senators have already voiced support in some form for the repeal of Title II Net Neutrality rules, but this vote will call out the few who have not said yes or no at this point, forcing them to make their opinion public. Advocates are already calling for Net Neutrality supporters to vote against any Senators that oppose negating the FCC's rule change in upcoming elections, which could mean trouble for many Senate Republicans. Senator Collins is currently alone in her support of the negation, on the Republican side.
To give a brief history of what led up to this, it all started with the voting in of current President Donald Trump. He appointed a cabinet of hand-picked executives. Among them was former Verizon lawyer Ajit Pai, who would become FCC Commissioner, replacing Tom Wheeler. Immediately upon taking office, Pai attacked the Title II Net Neutrality laws that Wheeler had worked with the Obama Administration to put in place. He eventually drafted up an order to abolish those rules, and pushed it through with a 3 to 2 vote in the Commission along party lines, despite massive public opposition. Congressional Democrats and other prominent figures promised to oppose the action any way possible, and this is the first step. While this vote may not go through, organizations like the Electronic Frontier Foundation plan to garner support and bring lawsuits against the FCC over the order. Opposition among the general public has been equally fierce; Commissioner Pai was due to appear at this year's CES, but ended up cancelling, with rumors and word from Consumer Technology Association CEO Gary Shapiro pointing to threats of violence as the reason.