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Robin Groulx / Axios

The long-anticipated rollback of net neutrality rules has officially begun. The FCC voted along party lines on Thursday to formally consider Chairman Ajit Pai's plan to scrap the legal foundation for the rules and to ask the public for comments on the future of prohibitions on blocking, throttling and paid prioritization.

Why it matters: This is the next step in the decade-long political fight over how to regulate the networks that have redefined politics, culture and the economy. Silicon Valley and telecom giants have opposing views of how web traffic should be treated on the way to reaching consumers — an increasing issue now that digital content is supplanting nearly every other format. The FCC has already been flooded with heated comments from both sides of the battle.

What's next:

  • The FCC will take comments from the public about the proposal, setting up a final vote that Pai has said he hopes will come later this year. That could be complicated if Democrat Mignon Clyburn leaves the commission when her term ends in June. With only two members, the commission would lack a quorum.
  • Expect significant pushback from Democratic lawmakers and progressive groups, who were out in force protesting the proposal before Thursday's FCC meeting.
  • Congressional Republicans hope today's vote will push their Democratic colleagues to make a legislative deal on the issue — but right now, that seems unlikely.

Go deeper

Senate confirms retired Gen. Lloyd Austin as defense secretary

Photo: Greg Nash-Pool/Getty Images

The Senate voted 93-2 on Friday to confirm retired Gen. Lloyd Austin as secretary of defense. Sens. Mike Lee (R-Utah) and Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) were the sole "no" votes.

Why it matters: Austin is the first Black American to lead the Pentagon and President Biden's second Cabinet nominee to be confirmed.

House will transmit article of impeachment to Senate on Monday, Schumer says

Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) announced that the House will deliver the article of impeachment against former President Trump for "incitement of insurrection" on Monday.

Why it matters: The Senate is required to begin the impeachment trial at 1pm the day after the article is transmitted.

Dan Primack, author of Pro Rata
2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Private equity bets on delayed tax reform in Biden administration

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

In normal times, private equity would be nervous about Democratic Party control of both the White House and Congress. But in pandemic-consumed 2021, the industry seems sanguine.

Driving the news: Industry executives and lobbyists paid very close attention to Treasury Secretary nominee Janet Yellen's confirmation hearings this week, and came away convinced that tax reform isn't on the near-term agenda.