Thanks to weeks of sustained grassroots pressure in the form of 16 million emails, over a million phone calls, and nationwide demonstrations both online and off, three Republicans voted with the Senate Democratic caucus on Wednesday to block the GOP-controlled FCC’s net neutrality repeal, clearing a crucial hurdle on the path to saving the web from the greed of the telecom industry.
In a statement applauding the 52-47 vote, Free Press Action Fund president Craig Aaron said the Senate’s passage of the so-called resolution of disapproval is “a historic win for supporters of net neutrality and a stinging rebuke to the army of phone-and cable-company lobbyists and lackeys trying to take away our internet freedom.”
“Today the Senate has taken a giant step toward unwinding the least-popular policy decision in the history of the FCC,” Aaron added.
Despite those and similar pronouncements by organizers about the significance of the victory, the news was virtually, if not completely, ignored by major cable outlets like MSNBC and CNN, respectively owned by Comcast and Time Warner — two of the major corporate powers lobbying against the CRA’s passage.
Meanwhile, as activists emphasized the importance of celebrating this crucial win given the tireless grassroots effort that produced it, open internet advocates and pro-net neutrality lawmakers noted that the same level of grassroots pressure — and likely even more — will be necessary to carry the resolution through the House of Representatives.
“The fight ahead is not going to be easy, but victory is within reach,” declared Evan Greer, deputy director of Fight for the Future.
“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,” Greer observed. “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.”
Just minutes after the final Senate vote was cast, advocacy groups began encouraging Americans to pressure their representatives to back net neutrality by signing on to the discharge petition Rep. Mike Doyle (D-Pa.) plans to file Thursday morning. The measure currently has the support of 161 House Democrats.
Michael Copps, former FCC Commissioner and special adviser for Common Cause, said the House must “hear the strong voice of the American people demanding an open internet and saying ‘No!’ to the telecom and cable monopolies” and follow in the Senate’s footsteps.
“Voters are watching and they will remember come November how their representatives voted,” Copps said. “We urge the House of Representatives to do its job and pass this resolution to restore net neutrality.”