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Senate votes for net neutrality -- enjoy the moment

The US Senate voted 52 to 47 for net neutrality. Now, the question is: Will the House support net neutrality, or will it -- or President Donald Trump -- shovel dirt on net neutrality's grave?
Written by Steven Vaughan-Nichols, Senior Contributing Editor

Video: Net neutrality explained with beer

Enjoy the moment. While most Republicans stand against net neutrality, Republican Senator Susan Collins, and well as John Kennedy of Louisiana, unexpectedly, and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska have all joined the Democrats to pass the Senate Joint Resolution 52 in a 52-to-47 decision to restore net neutrality from President Donald Trump's Federal Communications Commission's (FCC) net neutrality repeal.

Don't crack open the champagne yet.

Read also: Net neutrality vote: Why all the fuss? Here's my simple fix

Net neutrality supporters were successful in this round because they used the Congressional Review Act (CRA) to force a vote. This law enables Congress to repeal federal agency rules and regulations on a simple majority vote instead of a 60-vote threshold needed to break most Congressional procedural roadblocks. Ordinarily, the head of the US Senate, Senator Mitch McConnell, would have blocked this proposal.

Earlier Congressional attempts to overturn the FCC ruling had come to nothing. For example, Democrat House Representative Sean Patrick Maloney's bill, H.R.4585 - Save Net Neutrality Act of 2017, was killed immediately by the Republican-dominated House by being referred to the subcommittee on Communications and Technology.

In this case, while the resolution has passed, the measure still needs House approval and President Trump's signature. With Republicans holding a 236-to-193 majority in the House, it's unlikely net neutrality can be restored. For net neutrality to come back requires 25 House Republicans to join the Democrats just to force a vote in the lower chamber.

Without both the House and President Trump's support, the FCC's repeal of net neutrality, the falsely named Restoring Internet Freedom Order, stands. And, net neutrality ends June 11.

Eventually, net neutrality may be restored. The practical point of this vote is not to restore net neutrality but to force the Republicans to show their true anti-net neutrality colors before the midterm elections.

As Democratic Senator Elizabeth Warren said, "Senator Democrats want to stop internet providers from blocking access, filtering content, or charging higher fees."

Kamala Harris, a Democratic Senator from California, tweeted, "Today's vote on #Net Neutrality is one of the most impactful votes the U.S. Senate has ever taken on the future of the internet. If it fails, big cable companies will soon have the power to distort how the internet works."

Senator and former presidential candidate Bernie Sanders made an even stronger statement on Twitter: "There's never been a more important vote in the Senate for the future of the internet." He's right.

Read also: Pro-net neutrality FCC commissioner resigns

Republican Senator John Thune dismissed the vote as "going no where, my colleagues on the other side know that." He's missing the point. This vote wasn't about winning today, but winning for net neutrality in the long run.

The lines have been drawn. Now, while there are state-level laws and lawsuits seeking to restore net neutrality, the real way back to net neutrality is to vote its foes out of office.

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