The Senate approved a measure Wednesday 52-47 that would overturn the Federal Communication Commission’s decision to roll back Obama-era so-called net neutrality rules.
But that would happen only if it passes the House and is signed by President Trump, which appears unlikely.
The repeal effort led by Senate Democrats faces a significant hurdle in the House and an even greater one in the White House, but Democrats hope to rally support from young voters as they head to the ballot box in the 2018 midterm elections.
Many Senate Republicans, including Sen. John Thune, R.-S.D., cried foul on Wednesday, accusing Democrats of pushing the reversal through a rarely-used tactic without coming to the table to negotiate on new legislation.
Thune, the chairman of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation said he supports a ban on blocking, throttling, and paid prioritization of internet traffic, but reverting to the antiquated laws as Democrats want “only delays concrete protections for a free and open internet.”
Democrats say they are up against the clock. They and their colleagues in the House of Representatives have until June 12 to pass the repeal of the FCC‘s December decision to roll back landmark Obama-era rules that prevent internet service providers from slowing down or blocking access to certain parts of the internet.
Even if that plan works, President Trump would have to sign it, which is unlikely given his public support for the FCC decision.
The absence of Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., away from Washington fighting brain cancer, gave Democrats the opportunity to secure just one Republican vote to gain a simple majority and send the measure to the House. Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, was that ticket for Democrats as she and two other GOP senators, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and John Kennedy of Louisiana, joined 49 Democratic senators across the aisle.
Despite the unlikelihood of this actually re-enacting net neutrality rules, Democrats will hail it as a victory.
“Pretty much every millennial supports it,” Sen. Ed Markey, D-Mass., the lead sponsor told reporters last week during a news conference.
YouTube ads from the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee have already appeared on the issue, as voters head to the polls for midterm primaries and look ahead.
The December FCC 3-2 vote, along party lines, was a victory for those for internet service providers like Verizon and Comcast who said the Obama rules were heavy-handed, burdensome and hold back innovation.
Sen. Thune maintains that, under Obama Administration rules, internet service providers were spending less money on innovation and more money on lawyers and politics.