Senate Democrats Win Vote on Net Neutrality, a Centerpiece of 2018 Strategy

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Republicans were unable to prevent the vote, despite being in the majority, because the measure was tied to an action by a federal agency. The measure, brought as part of the Congressional Review Act, needed only to be brought up within a short period once the agency’s rules were codified, and needed only a majority of votes to pass.

Senator John Thune, Republican of South Dakota and the chairman of the commerce committee, called the vote on net neutrality “political theater.”

“We are having a fake argument,” Mr. Thune said about the vote. He said the Senate “is going nowhere, my colleagues on the other side know that.”

Mr. Thune and other Republican lawmakers have proposed their own net neutrality legislation. The law would restore parts of the Obama-era rules, but it would not categorize broadband providers as common-carrier providers that need to follow utility-style rules, which many Democrats consider essential.

“The heavy hand of government is plain to see in the plan Democrats passed in 2015 and is now seeking to reimpose,” Mr. Thune said.

Cable, wireless and telecom companies also support the creation of a law for net neutrality that is not as strict as the 2015 regulations, which were created by Tom Wheeler, the former chairman of the F.C.C.

The heads of major trade groups warned Senate leaders of great harm from the net neutrality rules.

The regulations “would curb the necessary investment and infrastructure improvements that are critical for connecting more Americans to high-speed broadband and enabling wider internet access, especially in poor and rural areas,” they wrote in a letter to Senator Mitch McConnell, Republican of Kentucky and the majority leader, and Mr. Schumer this week.