There’s a Democratic bill in the House of Representatives that seeks to void the FCC’s repeal of net neutrality, restoring the Obama-era rules that once ensured a free and open internet.
But even with the support of nearly every Democrat in the House, the petition still falls far short of the 218 signatures it needs to force a vote in the lower chamber on overturning the net neutrality repeal.
However, on Tuesday, the vast majority of Americans who support the Obama-era policy were given a new reason to hope: Rep. Mike Coffman became the first House Republican to stand with Democrats on net neutrality, signing his name to their petition to force a vote.
Coffman’s surprising defection marks one part of a two-pronged attack: That same day, the Republican from Colorado also introduced the “21st Century Internet Act,” a bill that would “permanently codify” the core tenets of net neutrality and better safeguard the open internet against the partisan machinations of the FCC. It’s a legislative action that Coffman first hinted he would take in the immediate aftermath of the net neutrality repeal.
And though Coffman told Politico that he prefers his bill to the Democrats’ bill to void the FCC ruling, he conceded that his rival party’s efforts were “better than nothing.”
His signature might just be the shot-in-the-arm that Democrats needed. Rep. Mike Doyle (D-Penn.), the author of the Democrats’ petition, suggested Coffman might be the first of many Republicans
to break rank on restoring net neutrality.
“We currently have 177 signers on our discharge petition and we continue to have productive conversations with members on both sides of the aisle about signing on,” Doyle said in an emailed statement to Mashable. “This isn’t a partisan issue anywhere except in Washington DC.”
Sen. Edward Markey (D-Mass.), whose chamber of Congress successfully voted to void the FCC repeal in May, called on the highest ranking Republican in the House to bring the Democratic resolution to a vote.
“I hope more Republicans will join this effort and stand on the side of American families who rely on and overwhelmingly support a free and open internet,” Markey said in an emailed statement to Mashable. “I reiterate my call on Speaker Ryan to immediately schedule a vote on the CRA resolution so we can put net neutrality rules back on the books as soon as possible.”
Neither Democrat immediately commented on whether he would vote for Coffman’s bill. Mashable will update this post if they do.
It bears repeating that both the Democratic resolution and Coffman’s bill face arduous futures. Even if they can garner the support they need to pass both chambers of Congress, they’ll still need the president’s signature to become law. And Trump has never minced words when it comes to his animus towards Obama-era regulations — including net neutrality rules.
Obama’s attack on the internet is another top down power grab. Net neutrality is the Fairness Doctrine. Will target conservative media.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 12, 2014
Nevertheless, it’s at least heartening to see both parties starting to work together towards restoring a free and open internet.