In the wake of the FCC’s repeal of net neutrality rules that prevent internet providers from blocking and slowing traffic last December, the public backlash was swift and intense, with thousands taking to the streets and millions contacting their lawmakers. In the months since, the outrage has not diminished, and as the midterm elections near, voters are seeking action from their reps.
A recent poll conducted by IMGE Insights on behalf of the Internet Freedom Business Alliance—which focused on voters in four House battleground districts—found that 58% of undecided voters would be more likely to vote for their current Congressperson if they took action to overturn the FCC’s repeal. Meanwhile, only 8% said such an action would make them less likely to vote for that member. 56% of undecided voters said net neutrality would be an important factor in determining who they vote for.
Constituents are taking their case directly to lawmakers and staff, meeting with them in-person and urging them to reinstate strong open internet rules critical to their communities’ economies, free speech, and the ability to access crucial online services.
Following a day of action on July 19th in which nearly 70 protests and letter deliveries were held at Congressional offices in cities and towns across the country, constituents have met with key Republican representatives and their staff at district offices to convince them to support strong net neutrality rules, including: Representatives Lee Zeldin (NY-01), Jack Bergman (MI-1), John Katko (NY-24), Mike Coffman (CO-6), Peter Roskam (IL-6), John Faso (NY-19), John Curtis (UT-3) and senior staff of Reps. Steve Knight (CA-25), Tom McClintock (CA-4), Martha McSally (AZ-2), Karen Handel (GA-6), Elise Stefanik (NY-21), Lloyd Smucker (PA-16), Kevin Yoder (KS-3), Tom Garrett (VA-5), John Culberson (TX-7), Mac Thornberry (TX-13), Vicky Hartzler (MO-4), Jeff Fortenberry (TX-13), Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (FL-27).
To date, Representative Mike Coffman is the only GOP member of the House to take action in support of real net neutrality, despite the public’s overwhelming opposition to the FCC’s repeal. In addition to the 1.4 million Americans that have spoken out on BattlefortheNet.com since the FCC voted to repeal the rules, 7,027 small business owners, 5,100 U.S. veterans and service members, and 1,300 first responders have signed open letters calling on Congress to pass the Congressional Review Act (CRA) resolution to restore net neutrality rules.
In May, the Senate passed a CRA resolution to overturn the FCC in an historic and bipartisan vote, 52-47. Three Republican senators sided with the entire Democratic Caucus to pass the resolution. Now a simple majority in the House, or 218 representatives, must sign a discharge petition to bring the CRA to a floor vote and pass it. Currently 177 members, including Republican Rep. Mike Coffman, have signed. Constituents are pressing lawmakers to join the ranks of representatives choosing their constituents over Big Cable by signing the discharge petition.
Whether small business owners, educators, veterans, or senior citizens dependent on an open internet, constituents have urged representatives to sign the discharge for an array of crucial reasons.
“As the owner of SMB Logic, a Kansas-based digital marketing agency, the free and open internet is critical to me, and to every single one of the small business clients I represent,” said Matthew Friedman. “Paid data prioritization and deprioritization threaten the livelihood of every single small business and market innovator and disruptor in the country, because they literally cannot—and should not have to—outspend their multinational conglomerate competitors for fair and equal access to data transmission. I am a registered voter in Lenexa, KS, represented by Kevin Yoder, and I am sincerely asking him to sign the net neutrality CRA discharge petition and vote in favor of it when it comes to a vote.”
“As a senior citizen living on a fixed income, connectivity to affordable internet is of paramount importance,” said Carolene Logue, of Shingle Springs, CA. “I live on 12 acres, five miles from the nearest commercial area. I rely on the internet for access to information regarding potential issues such as fires, weather conditions, news coverage, and entertainment. I am a registered voter in Rep. Tom McClintock’s congressional district and have visited his congressional office asking him to sign the net neutrality CRA discharge petition to force a vote in the House to restore net neutrality.”
“I fight for net neutrality as an educator wanting students to get the full benefit of online education opportunities, and as a citizen that believes the will of the majority should always matter more than that of big donors when it comes to the laws of this nation,” said Elizabeth Schmitt, of Baldwinsville, NY. “As a registered voter in New York’s 24th congressional district, I call on Congressman John Katko to sign the CRA discharge petition to allow the vote on net neutrality.”
“As a small business owner in the technology space, the fact that there is currently no rules puts my organization at a significant disadvantage relative to larger firms,” said Michael Arnett, chief operating officer of BNL Consulting, in Atlanta, GA. “We cannot realistically compete if larger businesses are allowed to negotiate better access to customers. I want the previous version of net neutrality restored immediately. Repealing net neutrality rules that encourage and protect the interests of small businesses is, at best, irresponsible and short-sighted, and, at worst, a clear promotion of big business interests over those of small businesses.”
“I am a small internet business owner, civil servant, and registered voter in the 21st district of New York. It is my hope that Rep. Elise Stefanik will take decisive action and sign the CRA discharge petition,” said Maxwell French, owner of White Dog Imaging, in Syracuse, NY. “I hope she will also vote to restore the rules if the opportunity arises. It is time to stop kowtowing to corporate donors and to start acting in constituents’ best interest. The monopoly service providers and their profit motives must not be allowed to harm fair access to the internet.”
More meetings with key members will occur in the coming days, including with Rep. John Curtis (UT-03), as well as the offices of Reps. Mike Gallagher (WI-08), Jeff Denham (CA-10), and others. These meetings also precede a larger campaign from national grassroots groups Demand Progress, Fight for the Future and allies to aggressively educate voters on candidates’ stances on net neutrality and the CRA discharge ahead of the midterms.