The Senate just voted 52–47 to save net neutrality! Here’s what will happen next:
This post is different. I’m not going to ask you to donate. I’m not going to ask you to call Congress one last time (though you still can for the next hour!). I’m just going to ask you to believe that we can win this fight for net neutrality, understand how we do it, and to spread the word.
In a historic 52–47 vote, the Senate just passed resolution to block the FCC’s repeal and restore basic protections that prevent companies like Comcast and AT&T from censoring online content, slowing down websites and apps, and charging expensive new fees.
Our work for Internet freedom will continue long after today, but the outcome of this vote will affect the battlefield that we are fighting on for years to come.
This is the most important thing for everyone to understand: we’re facing off with some of the most politically powerful corporations in the world. We’re fighting an uphill battle. But in the big picture, we are winning on net neutrality.
The polls just keep getting better. The latest shows that 86% of voters from across the political spectrum — Republicans, Democrats, and Independents alike — oppose the FCC’s repeal. No one wants their cable company to control which websites and apps they can use, where they get their news, or how they listen to music and stream video.
And that overwhelming public consensus is turning into real political power. Dozens of attorneys general, small and large businesses, and public interest groups have filed lawsuits to save the rules. More than 30 states are considering local legislation in defiance of the FCC, and one hundred mayors have pledged to defend the open Internet in their cities. Together, we’ve driven more than 16 million emails and calls to lawmakers since this latest attack began.
And we are making real progress in Congress too. Lobbyists for big telecom companies are furious about the Senate vote today. They had hoped to use the “crisis” following the FCC repeal to ram through bad legislation that claimed to save net neutrality while permanently undermining it. Instead, we’ve got them playing defense, and you can tell they’re getting nervous.
Here’s the path forward: the Congressional Review Act (CRA) is somewhat of a blunt instrument. It allows our elected officials in Congress to overturn decisions made by federal agencies like the FCC with a simple majority vote in both houses. Now that the CRA resolution passed the Senate today, we’ll need to immediately take the fight to the House of Representatives.
DC insiders and pundits claim that we’ll never get anywhere in the House. But … those are the same DC insiders that never thought we’d get a Senate victory today. Here’s how we can win:
In the House, we’ll need 218 lawmakers to sign on to a “discharge petition” in order to force a vote past leadership to the floor. That means we’ll need to convince all the Democrats, and about 25 Republicans, to support the CRA. And the clock is ticking — if the CRA resolution doesn’t get a vote this year, it dies when the new Congress comes into session.
Outside of Washington, DC, net neutrality is not a partisan issue. But with the Republicans in power, the big ISPs have been putting all of their eggs into that basket, spreading misinformation that targets conservatives and trying to turn the net neutrality debate into a political circus. But we’re seeing cracks in that wall. Three Republican Senators, Alaska’s Lisa Murkowski, Louisiana’s John Kennedy, andMaine’s Susan Collins, voted for the CRA, while one of President Trump’s own high level advisors encouraged him to support it should it arrive on his desk.
If we can seize the momentum around this Senate vote and mobilize massive pressure on the House, we could see a small landslide of Republican lawmakers who choose to side with their constituents rather than cast a vote against net neutrality just months before the midterms. Either way, we need to harness as much political power as we can coming out of this CRA fight to ensure that we’re negotiating from a place of strength in any future congressional debates on the issue.
We won’t have the benefit of a concrete deadline like we did with the Senate vote, so we’ll need to put tremendous pressure on individual House members, district by district, in order to get them to defy the ISPs and support the effort to restore net neutrality. We’ve seen that pressure from local small businesses is perhaps the single most effective method of influencing Republican lawmakers, so we’ll have to continue doing that, but on an even greater scale.
That means we’re going to need a dedicated corps of volunteers, signal boosters, and people spreading the word over the next few months. We’ll need to organize in-person protests and events, call-in days, canvassing efforts, online actions, and more. We can’t sit back and hope that politicians and big companies save net neutrality. Its future is in our hands.
Okay, I know this email is already getting long, but there’s one more thing I need everyone to understand. Last week, Ajit Pai announced that net neutrality rules will officially end on June 11th, that’s in less than one month. But the fight does not end that day. Not by a long shot.
When the FCC repeal goes into effect on June 11th, “the Internet as we know it” will not suddenly die. Nothing will happen right away. Shills for big telecom companies will immediately start saying “See? The sky didn’t fall, guess we never needed net neutrality in the first place.”
The big ISPs aren’t going to immediately start blocking websites or rolling out harmful paid prioritization scams. Not while Congress and the courts are still deliberating. Not while major states like California and New York are considering legislation. Not while they know the whole Internet is poised to attack as soon as they break the rules.
Even if the ISPs get their way in the end, the Internet’s death will be slow. You probably won’t even notice it happening at first. That’s what makes it so sinister. But over time, there will be less innovative startups, less choice and diversity of opinion online, less creativity, more centralization, less awesome. We’ll also lose one of the most important tools we have for exposing corruption, challenging tyranny, and holding the powerful accountable.
But we’re not going to let that happen. We’ve turned net neutrality into a mainstream issue for the first time ever. And now we’re building a movement to make sure that we protect it for generations to come.
The fight ahead is not going to be easy, but victory is within reach.
-Evan at Fight for the Future