***8:00 pm Eastern update***
PENCE AMENDMENT PASSES HOUSE 309-115
Prohibits FCC From Reviving Fairness Doctrine
WASHINGTON, DC- U.S. Congressman Mike Pence issued the following statement today after the Pence-Hensarling-Flake Amendment passed the House of Representatives. The amendment to the Financial Services Appropriations bill prohibits funds from being used by the Federal Communications Commission to impose the Fairness Doctrine on broadcasters. The amendment passed 309-115.
Pence’s remarks on the victory are below:
“Today the House of Representatives affirmed that freedom will continue to reign on the airwaves of America. Thanks to the support of 308 of my colleagues, Congress has ensured that the Fairness Doctrine will remain in the grave for now. This was a resounding victory for free speech.
“However, the fight for freedom on the American airwaves is not over. With many still hoping to resurrect this archaic doctrine of unfairness, we must continue to stay on the offense. Tonight I will introduce the ‘Broadcaster Freedom Act’ to ensure that the victory we experienced on the House floor today extends to future generations.
“I thank all my colleagues, especially the Republican leadership in the House for delivering this resounding victory for the freedom of speech.”
I reported yesterday that Rep. Pence would be introducing an amendment today to the financial services appropriations bill to prevent FCC funds from being used to reinstitute the Fairness Doctrine. He’s on the floor right now.
2:02pm Eastern. I’ve heard some members of this body say this is an issue that does not exist…In the last two days, Durbin has said, “Quote It’s time to reinstitute the Fairness Doctrine.” Pence also notes Dianne Feinstein and John Kerry’s statements in favor of resurrecting the Fairness Doctrine…you’ll pardon those of us who feel a cool breeze…say yes to freedom…reject any attempt to use funds to bring back this un-Fairness Doctrine.”
The amendment is accepted.
David Obey responds: “This issue is much ado about nothing.” Pooh-poohs debate on a non-existent issue. Blames right-wing radio for ginning up a fight that doesn’t exist.
Stepped away for a few minutes, but caught a bit of Dennis Kucinich, leader of the effort to resurrect the Fairness Doctrine, adding his pooh-poohing.
Pence says this is not about just this administration, but future administrations.
Jeb Hensarling, co-sponsor of the Pence amendment, speaks and urges House to err on the side of freedom. Orwell would hurl (okay, he didn’t say hurl, but close enough) at the phrase, “Fairness Doctrine.”
Diane Watson: “I find this very odd, this situation we are in…this is a complete red herring.”
They doth protest too much.
Roy Blunt: “I’m on the side that this debate does matter. I certainly think this debate is more meaningful than whether the Vice President is part of the executive branch or not. Appreciate majority’s willingness to accept this.”
Serrano (chairman of Appropriations Financial Services Subcmte): Why are you so afraid of something called the Fairness Doctrine?…You act like you have something to lose…You have nothing to fear but your fears (sic) itself.”
Pence: “Despite the gentleman’s assurances, which I completely accept as sincere, what we stand to lose is freedom.”
Giggle moment. Greg Walden, whose family works in broadcasting, starts a statement, but his mic isn’t working. “It’s cruel and unusual for a broadcaster to have his mic turned off!” Mic fixed: What we’re really about here is protecting fundamental, constitutional rights, free speech. Courts have made clear that using the Fairness Doctrine to restrict speech would be unconstitutional.
One-liner: “It’s not my fault that Air America didn’t find a huge audience and went bankrupt!”
2:26pm Eastern update. Minority Leader John Boehner up. Let citizens decide with their finger. Fairness Doctrine push “reminds me why I came here…Let’s trust the American people to decide for themselves…trust them to do the right thing.”
Tom Feeney notes that Dems say the Fairness Doctrine is a red herring and then that Repubs should like the Fairness Doctrine. The difference is that Rush admits he’s a conservative; Katie Couric and Dan Rather won’t admit their liberals. Rush would get regulated. The others, not.
Rep Kirk: As the kids today would say, “This doctrine is so 20th century.”
2:33pm Eastern update. Rep. Tom Price. Rather than fight in the marketplace of ideas, they want to bring back a 1920s regulation…”Let’s keep the Fairness Doctrine off our airwaves and in the history books where it belongs.”
2:40pm Eastern update. Obey sneers: “This hasn’t been the most scintillating debates in the history of the House floor. But the folks on talk radio and
yap-yap tv are publicly admitting they aren’t “fair and balanced.” If the media were really “liberal,” then conservatives would be pushing for the Fairness Doctrine.
He really doesn’t get it.
Obey: I want to see Rush Limbaugh and Sean (Hannity) them bloviate in all their glory. Everyone knows he’s plugged in to Republican National Headquarters. He’s thoroughly discredited and I’d like to keep it that way. Let right-wing talk radio go on just as it is now. Rush and Sean are just about as important in the scheme of things as Paris Hilton.”
Pence: The bipartisan vote that I expect will be recorded today will be an encouragement…that we believe in freedom on the airwaves.
Obey: This is a lot of sound and fury signifying nothing.
Voice vote was initiated. Appeared that ayes were prevailing. Pence calls for recorded vote. Delayed probably until 5pm.
Speaking of talk radio, here’s video of Harry Reid’s jab at the the “generators of simplicity” on the radio airwaves.
See Captain’s Quarters for more coverage of the floor debate.