How Senator Leahy’s broken hip puts net neutrality at risk

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One of the strange features of American government is that an 82-year-old’s broken hip can cause a sea change in telecom policy. The 82-year-old in question is Sen Patrick Leahy (D-VT), who had surgery after a fall and is said to be resting comfortably. But while Leahy recuperates, he won’t be able to cast votes and Democrats won’t be able to flex their razor-thin Senate majority — which could cost the administration its last chance to institute net neutrality rules. The temporary stalemate caused by Leahy’s recovery has lots of downstream effects. The Washington Post has a good piece running down the panic over federal judicial appointments, which require confirmation from the Senate. But the same also applies to Gigi Sohn [Senior Fellow and Public Advocate at the Benton Institute for Broadband & Society], Biden’s nominee for the fifth seat on the Federal Communications Commission. The FCC has been deadlocked at 2-2 since President Biden’s inauguration, and once Sohn is confirmed, the FCC would be in a position to restore net neutrality rules with a majority vote — but it’s been slow going. As long as the fifth seat is empty, net neutrality will remain in limbo — and it now looks like it could be empty for a very long time.

How one senator’s broken hip puts net neutrality at risk