Dorgan predicts Sept. vote on FCC ‘veto’

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Senators pushing a "legislative veto" of the Federal Communications
Commission’s new broadcast-ownership rules predicted Tuesday that they would have
enough votes to pass their bill when it goes to floor for a vote, most likely
the first week in September.

The rarely used maneuver is permitted under the Congressional Review Act and
allows lawmakers to obtained expedited consideration of a resolution of
disapproval.

To nullify the FCC’s June 2 relaxation of industry ownership restrictions,
the resolution would also have to pass the House and be signed by President
Bush.

Lead sponsor Byron Dorgan (D-N.D.) said 35 senators have signed on and he
believes he can get enough for a 51-vote majority by the time the bill
resolution comes to the floor.

Sen. Trent Lott (R-Miss.), another sponsor, said the initiative will be
productive even with no guarantee that the House will follow suit.

"If the Senate votes for this, it puts pressure on the House," he said.

"There is a reservoir of concern" among Americans that he House won’t be able
to ignore, Dorgan added.

Dorgan said he plans to use a provision in the review act that allow the
measure to go directly to the floor for a vote rather than through the Commerce
Committee, which typically has jurisdiction over FCC matters.

Dorgan said the Commerce Committee already vetted the underlying issues when
it approved its own FCC-rewrite bill.

That bill, however, has not received a commitment from Senate Majority
Leader Bill Frist (R-Tenn.) for a floor vote, and the necessary companion bill would face
grim chances in the House due to opposition from the leaders who can block
consideration.

The Senate Appropriations Committee is expected to add a third legislative
approach by attaching reregulatory measures to its FCC-appropriations bill.

"I expect these issues are going to ricochet around the Senate for some
while," Dorgan said.

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