Today, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) voted to repeal net neutrality rules, enacted under President Obama. The rollback of the rules will allow dominant companies like AT&T and Verizon to discriminate against potential rivals and prioritize their own content. The decision was not entirely surprising, given that the new FCC chairman, Ajit Pai, was a top lawyer at Verizon for many years. The vote happens right on the heels of reports that millions of public comments filed about the FCC vote were either duplicates or created by bots. The report led to 18 state attorney generals calling on the FCC to delay the vote—but the FCC forged ahead anyways.
This hugely unpopular decision is expected to have wide-ranging impacts. It could affect schools’ abilities to provide Internet access for their students, meaning that students lose access to “a huge range of high-quality resources that are really useful for teachers, whether it’s videos of science concepts, simulations.” It will disproportionately impact low-income communities, because “the Internet will become pay-to-play technology with two tiers: one that has speedy service and one that doesn’t.” The decision is likely to also disproportionately impact communities of color, especially with regards to telehealth services. And some argue that the #MeToo movement would be damaged, as “the open Internet has allowed women to bypass traditional patriarchal gatekeepers in media and the economy.”
Want more information about how this ruling could impact you? Check out this explainer on the Thinking CAP podcast.
ACTION OF THE DAY
Dream Act. While the Trump administration and congressional Republican say Congress has until March to protect Dreamers, approximately 22,000 DACA recipients are already in the process of losing protection from deportation. Until March 5, 2018, an average of 122 young people per day–more than 850 per week–will lose protection if Congress fails to pass legislation to protect Dreamers. One of those people is Osman Enriquez, a husband, a father, and a stonemason whose DACA protections expired because of a government mistake and who is now detained and being processed for deportation by immigration enforcement officers. In March, the number of unprotected Dreamers will skyrocket. Now is the time to make our voices heard, and stand with Dreamers. Call key members of Congress using our handy toolkit. Read our simple one pager, The Fierce Urgency of Protecting Dreamers Now.
Another Withdrawal. Last night, Trump’s nominee to lead EPA’s chemical safety withdrew his name from consideration as it became clear that he would not have the support to be confirmed. In the weeks since the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee advanced Michael Dourson’s nomination, opposition has continued to grow with new details emerging about his connections to the chemical industry and Republican Senators Richard Burr and Thom Tillis expressing “serious concerns” about his nomination. Dourson has a long history of advocating for chemical interests and his close ties to the industry would have presented serious conflicts of interests if confirmed to lead EPA’s chemical safety work. While it was reported that Dourson will “seek work opportunities outside the agency,” he is currently serving as a senior advisor at the EPA and it remains to be seen if he will leave the agency. Other Trump nominees that have removed their names from consideration are still working in Trump’s Administration, including Sam Clovis who is still working at USDA despite withdrawing his nomination for the agency’s top science position.
#GetUSCovered. Tomorrow is the final day to sign up for health care enrollment at HealthCare.gov! Remember that health care could be more affordable than you think, with some plans offered with zero premiums. This open enrollment season has seen strong enrollment numbers, despite attempted sabotage by the Trump Administration. Yet, with the shorter enrollment period, “enrollment may still fall short compared to past years.” In fact, congressional Democrats are calling for the enrollment period to be extended, writing, “We therefore call on you to offer a grace period this year, ensuring that all potential enrollees waiting to register for coverage at midnight on December 15 will be processed.” But don’t necessarily count on the Administration to extend the deadline—get enrolled today!
Tax Fight. Yesterday, it was reported that the House and Senate GOP had reached a tentative deal to move the tax bill forward. Senator Susan Collins has become the focus of much of the debate, as she said she would vote for the bill if she had certain proposed “fixes” passed. Yet, the new continuing resolution text released last night contains none of the proposed “fixes” that were promised to Collins. The tax bill still slashes the corporate tax rate (to 21 percent instead of 20 percent, as proposed in the initial bills). The top income tax rate is expected to be cut. And the bill will still repeal the individual mandate. Bottom line: the bill is a scam, intended to give huge tax cuts to the wealthiest Americans while increasing the debt to set up a path forward for “entitlement reform.” And don’t forget—for less than the cost of this $1.5 trillion tax bill, Congress could eliminate child poverty. Twice. Fight back at TrumpTaxToolkit.org.
#StillIn. Despite federal and Florida leaders holding fast to climate change denial, today, four counties that include the Miami metro area released their updated regional climate action plan. In the aftermath of Hurricanes Irma and Maria, the updated plan will help local leaders accelerate and expand their strategies to cut carbon pollution and prepare for climate change effects. It also focuses on increasing climate resilience in low-income communities and communities of color by improving community resources like transportation. South Florida’s new plan is yet another example of how local leaders are increasingly acknowledging the need to address climate change, whether Trump is or not.