US Senate saves net neutrality – for now

Republican rebels help Democrats block net neutrality repeal, but House could uphold FCC decision

The US Senate has today voted to save net neutrality rules, blocking Federal Communications Commission (FCC) chairman Ajit Pai's proposal to roll back the Obama-era protections preventing companies from discriminating against certain types of internet traffic.

Today, senators voted to nullify the FCC's decision, with 52 in favour and 47 against. The decision has been celebrated by campaigners, but they have also warned that net neutrality is still in imminent danger.

Repealing net neutrality rules was one of Pai's primary objectives when he was appointed as chairman of the Commission by President Trump last year. The Commission approved Pai's plans to remove the regulations in December 2017, prompting outcry from internet freedoms groups.

Today the FCC's plans were overturned using powers granted by the Congressional Review Act (CRA) - legislation that allows Congress to roll back the decisions of federal agencies. The CRA also allowed Democratic senators the power to force a vote on the issue by gathering just 30 signatures.

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In addition to every sitting Democrat senator, the motion to oppose the FCC's decision was supported by three Republican senators - Louisiana's John Kennedy, Maine's Susan Collins and Alaska's Lisa Murkowski.

However, while this is a victory for net neutrality advocates, it does not represent the end of the story.

In order to roll back Pai's plans permanently, campaigners will need to fight it in the House of Representatives, where the Republican party enjoys a much larger majority than it does in the Senate.

That means Republican politicians would likely need to break ranks for Democrats to score a win there.

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