Senate Approves Overturning FCC's Net Neutrality Repeal : The Two-Way Several Republicans joined Democrats in voting to overturn the FCC's controversial decision. But the measure has little chance of success in the House.

Senate Approves Overturning FCC's Net Neutrality Repeal

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Democrats enjoyed a rare victory on the Senate floor today. Over the objections of the Republican majority, the Senate approved a resolution to reverse the Federal Communications Commission's decision to end so-called net neutrality rules. With no support among House Republicans to do the same, the legislative fight ends today for Democrats. But NPR congressional correspondent Susan Davis reports Democrats will carry the political fight into this year's elections.

SUSAN DAVIS, BYLINE: When it comes to Internet access, Democrats like Massachusetts Senator Ed Markey see a new coalition of voters forming that bridges the usual philosophical party lines over government regulations.


ED MARKEY: The grandparents, the gamers, the gearheads, the geeks, the GIF-makers, the Generations X, Y and Z - this movement to save net neutrality is made up of every walk of American life.

DAVIS: Net neutrality is the principle that Internet service providers offer a level playing field for access. They can't influence loading speed or block access to websites or apps. In December, the Republican-controlled FCC voted to roll back Obama-era net neutrality rules. Colorado Republican Senator Cory Gardner runs the 2018 GOP campaign operation. And, like most Republicans, he supports shifting power away from the government and towards the private market.


CORY GARDNER: If the Democrats want to run on regulating the Internet, I think that's a losing strategy.

DAVIS: This issue doesn't cut cleanly along party lines. Steven Kull runs the Program for Public Consultation at the University of Maryland, which has studied public attitudes on net neutrality. They found that majorities of Americans support government-mandated net neutrality protections.

STEVEN KULL: People are on the Internet a lot. And that's a big part of the daily experience. And the prospect that it will be changed in some fundamental way is disturbing to quite a lot of them.

DAVIS: And fear is a great motivator for voters. Senate Democrats believe their resolution - getting every Democrat on record in support of net neutrality and most Republicans on record against it - can turn what was once considered a wonk issue into a wedge issue this November. Here's Hawaii Democratic Senator Brian Schatz.


BRIAN SCHATZ: People underestimate the passion of Internet voters at their peril. They are mad. And they want to know what they can do. And this vote will make things crystal clear.

DAVIS: Republicans like Congressman Scott Taylor of Virginia think Democrats are wrong on the policy of net neutrality. But he concedes that Democrats have done a better job of selling their message to voters. He warns there could be consequences if Republicans don't engage more directly with voters on an issue that matters to them.

SCOTT TAYLOR: So it's important that Republicans have a clear and concise message to tell them why net neutrality, while it sounds good and maybe it's even well-intended, is not the right answer for them.

DAVIS: Net neutrality doesn't make for catchy campaign slogans, but there are indicators that voters are clocking this issue. According to data provided by Google, net neutrality regularly ranks among the top political searches in each state this election year. Google has primarily supported net neutrality. In Pennsylvania and Nebraska, which held primary elections on Tuesday, it ranks second behind health care. Here's Maryland Democratic Senator Chris Van Hollen. He runs the Democrats' 2018 campaign operation and says Republicans are miscalculating how much voters care about this issue.

CHRIS VAN HOLLEN: This is one of those areas where Washington, D.C., sometimes gets in a bubble and doesn't recognize what's going on in the rest of the country.

DAVIS: Steven Kull is skeptical that net neutrality will be a voter motivator this year unless people see changes to their Internet costs or access. And voters may know soon enough. The Obama-era net neutrality rules expire June 11. Susan Davis, NPR News, the Capitol.

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