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Senate stands up for net neutrality, what’s next?

Today, the Senate voted 52-47 to pass legislation under the Congressional Review Act (CRA) to block the FCC’s troubling December 2017 rollback of its 2015 net neutrality rules. We’re excited to see the Senate following the will of the people and voting to keep the internet free and open. The passage of this resolution shows that this is an important issue for all Americans–including the thousands of members of the library community who have weighed in and asked lawmakers to step up for net neutrality.

The vote comes on the heels of news late Friday that the repeal of the 2015 net neutrality rules will officially take effect June 11. Though the FCC’s vote took place in December 2017, there were several procedural moves required for the rules to become law, including publishing in the Federal Register, the government record of agency regulations. Following a 30-day comment period, the order takes effect. This has been a source of confusion because the FCC initially published parts of the order in the Federal Register in February; but not the substance. Approval from the Office of Management and Budget was needed before substantive changes could take effect. The February filing started the clock, however, for challenges in federal court and for members of Congress to pursue action through the Congressional Review Act.

With the passage of the CRA in the Senate, action moves to the House, which must also vote on the CRA. We hope the House will follow the Senate’s lead and pass this resolution quickly to undo the FCC’s reckless and unpopular action. Already, 160 members of the House have signed on, and we expect more to follow in the coming days. You can help by continuing to tell your members of Congress (or thanking them!) that net neutrality is critical to the modern library and our communities through our action alert.

As ALA President Jim Neal put it, “ALA is extremely pleased the Senate–including Democrats and Republicans–voted 52-47 to support the CRA, and we hope their colleagues in the House will do the same. Strong net neutrality protections are good for America’s libraries, good for our nation and, according to polls, what voters of all political persuasions support. ALA members will continue to reinforce that message for decision-makers at all levels, for as long as it takes to preserve the open internet.”

On Monday, ALA participated with other leading library and educational organizations to reiterate our support for the strong, enforceable net neutrality rules passed in 2015 and to urge the Senate to pass the CRA. On the press call, Deputy Director of Public Policy Larra Clark reiterated the community’s belief that, “Strong, enforceable network neutrality protections are essential to ensuring open and nondiscriminatory access to information for all, and it is especially important that commercial Internet Service Providers are not able to control or manipulate the content of these communications.”

The CRA is the quickest way for Congress to uphold the will of the people, protect our institutions’ access to an open internet and preserve strong net neutrality protections.

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Ellen Satterwhite

Ellen Satterwhite a Washington Office Policy Fellow and Vice President of the Glen Echo Group. She has years of experience at the intersection of technology and policy, including as a co-author of the FCC’s National Broadband Plan and as Consumer Policy Advisor to the Commission. Satterwhite earned a Master’s in Public Affairs from the LBJ School of Public Affairs at the University of Texas at Austin.

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