The FCC will vote to restore net neutrality later this month

Democrats finally hold an FCC majority in the final year of President Biden’s first term.

Chip Somodevilla via Getty Images

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) plans to vote to restore net neutrality later this month. With Democrats finally holding an FCC majority in the final year of President Biden’s first term, the agency can fulfill a 2021 executive order from the President and bring back the Obama-era rules that the Trump administration’s FCC gutted in 2017.

The FCC plans to hold the vote during a meeting on April 25. Net neutrality treats broadband services as an essential resource under Title II of the Communications Act, giving the FCC greater authority to regulate the industry. It lets the agency prevent ISPs from anti-consumer behavior like unfair pricing, blocking or throttling content and providing pay-to-play “fast lanes” to internet access.

Democrats had to wait three years to enact Biden’s 2021 executive order to reinstate the net neutrality rules passed in 2015 by President Obama’s FCC. The confirmation process of Biden FCC nominee Gigi Sohn for telecommunications regulator played no small part. She withdrew her nomination in March 2023 following what she called “unrelenting, dishonest and cruel attacks.”

Republicans (and Democratic Senator Joe Manchin) opposed her confirmation through a lengthy 16-month process. During that period, telecom lobbying dollars flowed freely and Republicans cited past Sohn tweets critical of Fox News, along with vocal opposition from law enforcement, as justification for blocking the confirmation. Democrats finally regained an FCC majority with the swearing-in of Anna Gomez in late September, near the end of Biden’s third year in office.

“The pandemic proved once and for all that broadband is essential,” FCC Chairwoman Rosenworcel wrote in a press release. “After the prior administration abdicated authority over broadband services, the FCC has been handcuffed from acting to fully secure broadband networks, protect consumer data, and ensure the internet remains fast, open, and fair. A return to the FCC’s overwhelmingly popular and court-approved standard of net neutrality will allow the agency to serve once again as a strong consumer advocate of an open internet.”