US lawmakers approved a net neutrality bill on Wednesday that would repeal the repeal of rules that would force ISPs to treat all internet content equally.
The humbly titled Save The Internet Act passed in the House of Representatives with a 232-190 vote, sparking delight among net neutrality advocates and causing celebration among politicians that voted in favor.
There's only one problem, however: the vote and the bill itself are a complete waste of time. The bill would have to pass the US Senate, and that half of Congress's majority leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) made a point of saying yesterday that he would block its passing.
"Dead on arrival in the Senate," was McConnell's blunt response to questions about the bill.
In addition, the White House put out a statement saying even if the bill passed the Senate – which it won't – President Trump wouldn't sign it. "The Administration strongly opposes House passage of H.R. 1644," the statement began. It ended: "If H.R. 1644 were presented to the President, his advisors would recommend that he veto it."
So, why did the House even bother and why so much celebration?
The simple answer is that in the distorted world that is partisan politics in Washington DC, any win is something to be celebrated simply because it allows one tribe to lord it over the other. In this case it was the Democrats over the Republicans.
Adding to the excitement was the fact that the Republicans in the House tried to pass amendments on the bill that would effectively undercut it, and failed. Hurrah! And none of that matters either.
Back in the real world, only one Republican voted for the Democrat-backed bill, Bill Posey of Florida, indicating that there is a firm party political line on the issue. Supporters of net neutrality have been quick to point out that polls have repeatedly demonstrated that the American people are overwhelmingly in favor of net neutrality.
That has enabled them to crow that the Republican party is acting in the interests of big business rather than the public but, again, it doesn't matter in the slightest because without actual votes nothing happens.
The Democrats have 235 seats in the House following the most recent elections, the Republicans have 197, and three are vacant. So the 232-190 vote in favor of the bill is an indicator of nothing more than the fact that this is a high profile issue that has become entirely partisan. Which means it will not and cannot pass until there is a Democratic majority in the Senate and a new president.
Which, of course, highlights – again - that the vote was completely pointless and all the celebrations are only serving to further solidify people's position, further enhance partisanship and so ensure that nothing passes.
Have you ever wondered how some issues become so entrenched in American society that they become impossible to resolve despite widespread frustration from both the public and the majority of lawmakers - topics like abortion and gun control? Well, this is how. Net neutrality is now officially an impossible topic.
You might think that all of this would spark lawmakers to recognize the obvious: that the only solution is to find common ground and compromise with the other party. But no.
Now the Republicans are in the minority, they have gamely proposed a series of net neutrality bills that they have assured everyone they are looking to pass with bipartisan agreement. Except, of course, it emerged that the bills had been put forward without anyone from the Republican even mentioning it – let alone seeking input or advice – from the Democrats.
Are you interested in what the current FCC chair - who jammed through the reversal - thinks? You shouldn't but regardless, Ajit Pai called it a "big-government solution in search of a problem" and noting that it "should not and will not become law."
But wait, you say, didn't the Senate pass a very similar bill last year that did the same thing and reverse the controversial decision by the FCC to reverse its own rules made just two years earlier?
Yes, it did. Back in May 2018, the Senate voted 52-47 to reverse the FCC decision with three Republicans voting in favor. But that was before the election and Democrats had 49 seats in the 100-seat body. That has since fallen to 47, which means that the Democrats would have to persuade another Republican senator on top of the previous three to pass it.
There was yet another net neutrality hearing today in America, and it was all straightened out amicably and smoothlyREAD MORE
That vote in 2018 was also pushed through the Congressional Review Act, which cannot be used anymore because it has been longer than 60 days that the FCC reversal was decided.
Incidentally, that measure failed when it went to the House – which was at the time controlled by the Republicans – and was voted down in yet another partisan vote that should have made it clear to everyone for THE UMPTEENTH TIME that it is a colossal waste of everybody's time and energy to keep having votes on issues without the support of at least some of the other party.
Still, why worry about making actual changes when you can get all your pals together, force through a vote and then point and jeer at the other side? After all, you still get your paycheck and top-notch healthcare to boot.
So let's celebrate America. Because the Democrats have found their version of Obamacare to obsess about while refusing to acknowledge or even discuss to underlying problems that have led to such a split in opinion in the first place.
Let's take some inspiration from Sisyphus and get behind that boulder one more time. Because your representative is voting in your interests. And while you're there, why no make a donation to their re-election campaign? ®