House Rules Committee Nixes 'Freedom Amendment'
July 15, 2009 at 4:43 AM (PT)
The House Rules Committee has rejected Reps. GREG WALDEN (R-OR) and MIKE PENCE's (R-IN) "Broadcaster Freedom Amendment" to the Financial Services Appropriation Bill, which funds the FCC. The amendment would have stopped the FCC from bringing back the "Fairness Doctrine" or enacting "localism" rules to control station content. The vote went along party lines, with the amendment rejected 8-4.
PENCE issued a statement complaining, "Unfortunately, Democrats on the Rules Committee decided that the freedom of speech, though enshrined in the Constitution, is not a right they were willing to afford their colleagues in the House, and rejected this straightforward, commonsense amendment. I am profoundly disappointed.
The First Amendment is not a partisan issue; the preservation of Constitutional freedoms should be the paramount duty of every elected Representative and should take precedence over partisan gamesmanship or heavy-handedness. What makes the Majority on the Rules Committee's vote even more disappointing, and even a bit baffling, is that over 300 Members of this body have already supported broadcast freedom in the past, and two of the Democrats on the Committee are cosponsors of the Broadcaster Freedom Act, which would permanently send the ‘Fairness Doctrine' to the ash heap of broadcast history. This would have been an easy, overwhelming vote.
"Today, the interests of the American people and the interests of this august institution were not served.
"Every time a vote concerning the freedom of a people, abroad or here at home, has come to the floor of the People's House, freedom has always won; yet tonight freedom was blocked from getting even a chance to be voted on.
"However, thanks to the overwhelming encouragement we received from Americans nationwide, calling in and voicing their support for the WALDEN-PENCE amendment, as well as the consistence and vigilance of colleagues like GREG WALDEN, JEB HENSARLING and JEFF FLAKE, I am confident that it is only a matter of time before the specter of a government takeover of the airwaves is dismantled forever."