HR 1606 was pulled after the Rules committee failed to come to a compromise on how to address the bill.
The "reformers" and their allies in Congress want a floor vote on the CDT bill (HR 4900).
HR 1606 went through hearings and much debate. But when it was brought up in Congress under suspension rules, opponents wailed that this was a gross violation of House etiquette (as Pelosi's office told me). It was merely a procedural disagreement, I was told.
Now, after HR 1606 has gone through the whole process, those hypocritical opponents are now pushing the CDT bill as an alternative, even though it hasn't gone through committee hearings and it hasn't been properly debated. And it looks like Pelosi is right there with them.
What we are asking is not unreasonable --
- Pass HR 1606 to preserve the status quo and preempt potentially crippling FEC regulations (which they are under court order to produce).
- Run the CDT bill through the normal legislative process. None of us are reflexively opposed to it. It's just that NO ONE has had the time to properly vet it.
That's it. Seems simple enough, right?
Yet the "reformer" groups, the same people who have overtly vowed to destroy this site, are suddenly running to the CDT bill. Why do so if it supposedly doesn't affect the very site they've set out to destroy? This has nothing to do with CDT, whose intentions I don't doubt. It's the Fred Wertheimers and Carol Darrs who I don't trust.
And despite Adam's call for them to guarantee they wouldn't use the CDT bill to attack Daily Kos, the only response has been silence.
I will not stand for attacks on a medium based on fantasies, when reality clearly shows that those problems do not (currently) exist. I have a responsibility and duty to this medium, and I will fight to protect all of us who operate in this space.
Given time and proper study, we may find that the CDT bill is actually not cause for concern and I'll drop my opposition. But we need that time for proper study. Rushing it into the floor of the House, bypassing the committee process and avoiding substantive debate and testimony is NOT the way to do it.
Update: Congress is in recess next week, so unless the FEC does another delay (and it should), we'll be seeing regulations next week.
Update II: Adam gives a great rundown of what happened today in the comments.
This much, we know: Congress has had since September 18, 2004 to tell the FEC and the courts that it never intended for political activity on the Internet to be regulated, or that they prefered that it be regulated in a certain way. The FEC, in turn, has afforded Congress every opportunity to speak on these issues and stalled as long as it could to allow the legislature to act first. Congress has abdicated this responsibility. They failed to speak. They punted.
It could make one wonder: was anyone serious in Congress about this? Did those supporting HR 1606 really want it to pass, or did they just want to look good in front of netroots on the right and left? Did the "reformers" really support a CDT proposal which would have granted some significant boosts to blogger freedoms, or did they only care about scuttling HR 1606?
Do not listen to what they say; watch what they do. For all their talk about caring about bloggers, the members of Congress has failed to protect bloggers from FEC regulation or guide the regulatory process in any way. Next Thursday, the FEC will now fill their silence with rules and regulations, and it will be up to Congress again to decide whether it cares to do anything about it.