Which One Of These Five Republicans Will Save Net Neutrality?
Just when you thought net neutrality was dead, the FCC's decision to repeal the 2015 Obama-era Internet regulations could be reversed if Congress acts in time. Currently, it's likely up to one of five Republicans to save the day. Which one will it be?
The Senate is now just one vote short of overturning FCC Chairman Ajit Pai's Restoring Internet Freedom order, a move that removed restrictions on Internet service providers from blocking, throttling, or censoring content on the web.
Senator Edward Markey's (D-MA) net neutrality resolution would use the Congressional Review Act to nullify the FCC's decision and now has a reported fifty senators supporting the effort. All they need is one more vote and the measure would pass in the Senate.
All Democrats and Independents are already currently in favor of the measure, which means the deciding vote will have to come from a Republican. Chances are, it will be one of these five people.
1) Iowa's Joni Ernst
Senator Joni Ernst (R-IA) has the distinction of being the Republican who has taken the least amount of donations from the telecommunications companies, suggesting that she isn't likely controlled by the corporate interests of the industry.
While Senator Ernst currently says she supports Chairman Pai's decision to repeal net neutrality, the premise of her stance is a bit off, suggesting that she can be moved.
In a statement to one of her constituents, Ernst wrote, "Internet bandwidth is a finite resource and must be allocated somehow."
The thing is... that's not true at all. While wireless broadband ranges are indeed finite resources, we sit on a nation of over 113,000 miles of fiber-optic cable that most Americans don't even have yet. Connecting each of our homes with fiber would mean a 400x jump in speeds and capacity overnight.
We haven't even scratched the surface of Internet bandwidth capacity, and as more Iowans share their opinions, realities and stories with the Senator, she may very well change her stance.
Contact Senator Ernst: (202) 224-3254
2) West Virginia's Shelley Moore Capito
Senator Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV) believes in the principles of net neutrality, but she currently views legislation as the answer, not federal regulations.
In a statement to one of her constituents, Capito says, "I believe that principles of net neutrality, including regulations that prevent throttling, paid prioritization, and the blocking of legal content by service providers are important."
She also goes on to say that fewer regulations are a better way of encouraging this innovation, not more.
But more and more of her constituents are pointing out to her that they'd rather see West Virginia act more like North Dakota or Indiana, two rural states who have committed themselves to treating the Internet like a public utility, not a for-profit business model.
Contact Senator Capito: (202) 224-6472
"In the region’s most sparsely populated state, 60 percent of the households, including those on farms in far-flung areas, have fiber."
The Council of State Governments, Midwest
Net neutrality at a federal level is 100% congruent with the strategies North Dakota and Indiana have taken, which is just one more reason why Capito might change her mind with enough pressure from the citizens of West Virginia.
3) Indiana's Todd Young
Speaking of Indiana, Senator Todd Young (R-IN) has a golden opportunity to prevent a potential disaster for Republicans during the mid-term elections later this year.
As a leader from a state that has proven that regionally-based, public utilities are a better model for Internet infrastructure in America than the for-profit approach offered by the Verizon's and Comcast's of the country, Senator Young can turn net neutrality into a bipartisan issue overnight and take away some powerful ammunition from the Democrats this fall.
Eighty-three percent (83%) of Americans favor net neutrality, including a large number of voters who might show up to the mid-term elections this year based on this issue alone.
Strategically, Young might be in the best position to seize this opportunity and give the Republicans an out without having to lose face with their base.
Also worth noting, at just over $118k, Young has taken among the least in campaign donations from the telecommunications industry among all members of Congress. He's got nothing to lose and everything to gain by voting to overturn the FCC's decision to repeal net neutrality.
Contact Senator Young: (202) 224-5623
4) Tennessee's Bob Corker
Senator Bob Corker (R-TN) is up for re-election this year if he wants to run again.
And while retirement has been the assumed option for a while now, rumor has it he is now reconsidering running for another term after reports that current Tennessee U.S. Representative Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) would lose the state to a Democrat if she were the Republican candidate in the elections.
Congresswoman Blackburn recently introduced a bill called the Open Internet Preservation Act that she claimed would be a legislative fix for the repeal of net neutrality, but many critics argued that it wouldn't do anywhere near enough to keep the Internet free and open.
If Senator Corker decides to stay in the race, he'd be smart to take the opposite approach of the increasingly unpopular Congresswoman Blackburn and come out in full support of net neutrality now.
Contact Senator Corker: (202) 224-3344
5) Nevada's Dean Heller
Last but not least is Senator Dean Heller (R-NV). He has already been the target of Google Ads in his district by Democrats for "attacking Internet rules," and he's up for re-election this year.
While many are saying that President Donald Trump may end up costing Senator Heller his job, voting yes for net neutrality might just be the thing he needs in order to distance himself from the current administration, including President Trump and FCC Chairman Ajit Pai.
Contact Senator Heller: (202) 224-6244
Who Will Save The Internet?
With so many Americans in favor of net neutrality, it's hard to imagine that at least one of these Senators won't need to change their stance on the issue in order to stay in office and in positive graces with their constituents.
If you live in one of these states, have you made your voice known to the officials that represent you? What has been their response?
Who do you think will be the Republican that saves net neutrality? Or will they hold fast and cement their parties opposition to this issue?