Months after Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai paved the way to scrap net neutrality, the repeal is official. The Washington Post reports the vote was published in the Federal Register late Thursday, putting the action into print.
Pai’s effort to create a free and open internet culminated in a controversial vote in December. Split along party lines, the governing board of the FCC chose to repeal Obama-era regulations protecting American consumers from money-guzzling business practices.
Net neutrality, and its recent repeal, stoked anger across the United States. Surveys and polls showed that a majority of Americans – up to 83%, according to The Hill – wanted consumer protections to remain in place. A plurality of politicians on Capitol Hill felt similarly, with many Republicans remaining strangely silent as Pai seemed poised to pass over public opinion.
The vote’s publication in the Federal Register means that net neutrality activists can begin taking action against Pai and the FCC. Organizations and attorneys general can pursue the agency in court while Congress can form a coalition capable of blocking the FCC’s repeal from taking effect.
According to the Post, senators opposed to Pai have 60 days to find a single Republican willing to break with the party and launch a Congressional Review Act, or CRA. Fifty senators have already pledged to work against the repeal. Sen. Susan Collins of Maine is one of few conservatives publicly supporting the initiative.
But in order for the measure to pass, another defection is necessary.
Unfortunately, the Post suggests throttling the FCC may not prove an easy task.
Even if another Republican turns against his or her own party, the CRA would face tough odds in the House. And in the unlikely event that both chambers of congress abrogate the FCC’s vote, President Donald Trump is almost certain to stop the CRA’s passage.
“The FCC and Chairman Pai just triggered a timeline that will culminate in a Senate vote on my resolution, and we cannot let up until we win,” said Sen. Edward Markey (D-MA), who’s leading the CRA effort.
The Post speculates that most challenges outside Congress will be filed within the next ten days.
“All petitions filed in the first 10 days are considered to be filed simultaneously,” said Harold Field, vice president of consumer advocacy group Public Knowledge.
The reason, writes the Post, lies in how the judiciary will tackle the challenge of nationwide litigation.
In situations such as this, which federal appeals court takes the case is determined by a lottery. The ‘output,’ writes the Post, depends heavily upon which venues received lawsuits.