Fight Over FCC Rules Continues in House

Nov 10, 2003  •  Post A Comment

Angry lawmakers vowed last week to force a House vote on a resolution to overturn the Federal Communications Commission’s media ownership deregulation after the House GOP leadership made clear that it won’t bring the issue to the floor voluntarily.
“This fight is not over,” said Rep. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., one of the leaders of the House effort to overturn the FCC’s action. “We’re going to move ahead,” added Rep. Maurice Hinchey, D-N.Y.
Riling the lawmakers was word that House Speaker Dennis Hastert, R-Ill., planned to continue blocking a vote on the resolution even though they presented him with a letter last week signed by 205 members of Congress, including 11 Republicans, urging him to drop the GOP blockade.
In an interview, a spokesman for Rep. Hastert said the Nov. 5 letter had not changed the House leadership’s mind. “As a far as I know, no vote will be scheduled,” said John Feehery, Rep. Hastert’s spokesman.
But Reps. Hinchey and Sanders said they will try to force the speaker’s hand with a so-called “discharge petition,” a parliamentary device that allows lawmakers to force a vote on an issue as long as they can get the support of 218 representatives.
“It is an outrage that in this House of the people that the members of this Congress are not even given an opportunity to vote,” said Rep. Sanders. “It’s a refusal to allow the democratic process to unfold,” Rep. Hinchey added.