The Senate upheld Internet access rules known as net neutrality on Thursday, rejecting a move to overturn the Federal Communications Commission’s regulations.
The Republican-backed bill to scrap the FCC’s net neutrality rules failed to pass muster in a 46-to-52 vote that fell strictly along party lines.
Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-Tex.) proposed the resolution to overturn the rules under the Congressional Review Act, sighting the FCC’s questionable authority to introduce rules for Internet access providers.
Hutchison and several Republican lawmakers say the rules that dictate how Internet service providers handle Web content for customers would be overly burdensome to communications firms.
Democrats argued in favor of the FCC rules, which the White House has also endorsed.
Senator John “Jay” Rockefeller (D-W.Va.), chairman of the Commerce, Science and Technology committee, noted that companies had helped shape the regulation.
“These rules are the product of hard work, consensus and compromise,” Rockefeller said in a statement. “So at the end of the day, the FCC's light-touch approach to network neutrality prevailed, and that is a good thing.”
Republican House lawmakers passed their own resolution to overturn the rules. The Obama administration earlier this week said it would veto bills aimed at killing the net neutrality rules.
The loss by Senate Republicans gives the FCC some reprieve, but the neutrality rules are being challenged in court. Verizon Communications and Metro PCS have sued the agency, saying the rules go beyond the FCC’s jurisdiction as a communications services regulator. On the other side, Free Press, which supports net neutrality, has also sued the FCC, saying the rules don’t adequately protect wireless consumers.
Notably, Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-Maine), who had previously supported a law for net neutrality, voted in favor of Hutchison’s bill.