In what has become a game of follow the bouncing bill, don't look for the Senate Commerce Committee to mark up the Brownback indencency legislation after all.
Brownback was hoping his stripped-down version would get committee attention. It boosts FCC indecency fines by 10-fold, to a top fine of $325,000 per incident, but without bringing station licenses into play for multiple violations or targeting performers as an already-passed House version does. The House bill also ups the fine to $500,000 per incident.
Marking up the bill had been discussed among Commerce Committee top staffers last week, and Brownback supporters were confident it would make the cut, according to a source close to the legislator. But there was apparently a scheduling problem with another bill. A commerce committee spokesman had no comment. I was likely not only scheduling, however. Committee Chairman Ted Stevens' has said he wants to allow a $300 million industry information campaign, spearheaded by former MPAA Head Jack Valenti, to have a chance to work before legislating on indecency.
There is another committee markup June 8, where a Senate telecom bill rewrite is secheduled to be market up, but it is unlikely to make it onto that agenda, either. That leaves, maybe, three or four more markups before the session ends.
If the bill does not make it into one of those, it will be discharged from the committee, which leaves up to the majority leader, Bill Frist of Tennessee, to decide whether to schedule a floor vote on it or not.
Frist reportedly wanted a voice vote on the tougher House version, but that apparently faced a hold. A single Senator can put a hold on a bill, and could do the same on the Brownback bill.