By Glynn Wilson –
MOBILE, Ala. — The newest member of the United States Senate, Democrat Doug Jones of Alabama, is hitting the ground running in Washington, D.C., already sponsoring more legislation than his Republican counterparts in just his first month in office.
On Tuesday, Jones announced that he will co-sponsor legislation to repeal the Federal Communications Commission’s decision to end its policy on net neutrality, also known as the Open Internet Order.
In December, the FCC voted to repeal the order, a decision that was upheld by the Circuit Court in D.C. The order prohibited internet service providers from blocking, slowing down or discriminating against anyone who posts content online or any consumers who view any type of content, not just commercial news and information paid for by corporate advertisers.
Repealing the net neutrality rules could lead to higher prices for consumers, slower internet traffic, and even blocked websites, Jones said in a news release.
We have asked his press staff for a response on how the new Senator feels about the changes taking place on Facebook, considering how important a role Facebook and Twitter played in his election campaign last year. We will update this story to reflect his reponse, if and when we hear back.
“A free and open internet is crucial for our nation to remain a leader in the global economy, provide our children a quality education, and promote freedom of speech,” Senator Jones said. “Repealing the Open Internet Order would allow companies to raise the price of internet access and discriminate against certain internet traffic. Restoring net neutrality is the right thing to do to protect Alabama consumers and to provide an equitable platform for companies of all sizes to compete for their customers.”
The resolution of disapproval would rescind FCC Chairman Ajit Pai’s item and fully restore the Open Internet Order. Congressional Review Act (CRA) resolutions allow Congress to overturn regulatory actions at federal agencies with a simple majority vote in both chambers. In accordance with the CRA, the Senators will formally introduce the resolution after the rule is submitted to both houses of Congress and published in the Federal Register, and then force a vote within 60 legislative days.
Of course even if all 49 Senators who caucus with the Democrats vote for the resolution, they will need a few Republican votes and it will also have to pass the House and be signed by President Donald Trump. It is unclear with all the other distractions going on that the Republicans or the president would go along with such a measure.
But knowing that his election was driven in large measure by activism on the open internet, especially through social networking platforms such as Facebook and Twitter, Jones knows this is important to further the aims of Democrats to make inroads in the midterm elections of 2018.
Goverment Shutdown Looms
Congress is locked in an open battle with President Trump at the moment trying to keep the government from shutting down by Friday in a dispute over Trump’s comments about “shithole countries” from which many immigrants enter the U.S. The president had indicated he would compromise on the DACA or Dreamers program to pass a budget and keep the government running. But in Tweets this week, he went back on that pledge and distracted everyone’s attention back to his pledge to build a border wall between the U.S. and Mexico.
The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, or the Dreamers program authorized by the DREAM Act, or Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors Act, is at risk along with the CHIP or Children’s Health Insurance Program.
“It is not too late for members of Congress on both sides of the aisle to find common ground and work out a deal to avoid a government shutdown,” Jones said in response to our questions on Friday morning. “However, I am still very concerned that this is yet another short-term funding plan that would put Congress in the same position again next month. While I appreciate that CHIP is included in this bill, it still does not address key issues like funding rural healthcare initiatives. People expect their government to work for them, and this is no way to run a government.”
CHIP Program Support
On Thursday, Jan. 11, Jones also released a statement announcing his support and sponsorship of the law reauthorizing the CHIP program.
“I’m proud to announce that the first piece of legislation I’ll co-sponsor will ensure a long-term funding solution for the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP),” Jones said. “I have said from day one that my first priority when I arrived in Washington would be to protect the 150,000 Alabama children — and the nine million more across the nation — who depend on CHIP for their healthcare.
“This bipartisan plan would extend CHIP funding until FY 2022, which will ensure low-income families can continue to count on this critical program and it will protect states from having to foot the entire bill,” Jones said. “It is long past time to renew CHIP and I’m proud to join my colleagues who are fighting for the children who depend on it.”
Jones Appointed to Four Senate Committees
On Wednesday, Jan. 3, Jones announced that he had been appointed to four Senate Committees, including the Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs; the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee; the Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs, and a special committee on Aging.
Some of his followers might be disappointed that he was not named to the Senate Judiciary Committee or the Senate Committee on Intelligence, but he is a junior senator, after all.
“It is a tremendous honor to be given the opportunity to serve on these four important Senate committees,” Senator Jones said. “These assignments provide me with an avenue to begin working for the people of Alabama on issues such as creating long-term funding for the Children’s Health Insurance Program and ensuring our nation’s safety from those who would do us harm. I am also looking forward to working with my colleagues in the Senate to protect programs that our seniors and middle-class Americans depend on.”
The U.S. Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs plays an integral role in managing legislation that affects the lives of many Americans, he said. These areas of jurisdiction include, but are not limited to: banking, insurance, financial markets, securities, housing, urban development and mass transit, international trade and finance and economic policy. The Committee is led by Chairman Mike Crapo (R-ID) and Ranking Member Sherrod Brown (D-OH).
The Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions has broad jurisdiction over our country’s health care, education, employment and retirement policies. The Committee is led by Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-TN) and Ranking Member Patty Murray (D-WA).
The Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs is the chief oversight committee of the U.S. Senate. Formerly known as the Committee on Governmental Affairs, it took on primary oversight responsibility for the Department of Homeland Security in 2003. The Committee is led by Chairman Ron Johnson (R-WI) and Ranking Member Claire McCaskill (D-MO).
The Senate Special Committee on Aging has served as a focal point in the Senate for discussion and debate on matters relating to older Americans. In addition, the Committee publishes materials of assistance to those interested in public policies which relate to the elderly. The Committee is led by Chairman Susan Collins (R-ME) and Ranking Member Bob Casey (D-PA).
© 2018, Glynn Wilson. All rights reserved.