U.S. Sen. Byron Dorgan (D-ND), a fierce critic of the FCC's new media ownership rules, predicted last week that he has the votes in the Senate to pass a congressional veto of new broadcast ownership rules approved by the FCC on June 2.
Dorgan said he will bring the measure directly to the Senate floor for a vote - bypassing action by the Senate Commerce Committee - the first week in September.
"The Commerce Committee has already debated many of these issues, and we have sufficient signatures to bring it directly to the floor," Dorgan said. "That's what we intend to do. I've talked with Senator [John] McCain about this, who has agreed to this process. I have also talked with Majority Leader [Bill] Frist and Minority Leader [Tom] Daschle about it and am working with them to develop a date for bringing the measure to the floor. I expect it will be the first week of September, though that will depend somewhat on when the final rules are published in the Federal Register."
The rarely used congressional veto procedure is authorized by the Congressional Review Act. It provides for expedited consideration of a Resolution of Disapproval, which must be approved by both the Senate and the House, and signed by the president. Unlike other legislative reactions to the FCC rules, this method would void all the FCC's new rules-including cross-ownership of newspapers and broadcast stations.
Dorgan's Resolution of Disapproval is sponsored by a bipartisan group of 21 senators, who represent a wide spectrum of views in the Senate. Twelve of the co-sponsors are members of the Senate Commerce Committee, representing a majority of the committee.
"We are moving to roll back one of the most complete cave-ins to corporate interests I've ever seen by what is supposed to be a federal regulatory agency," Dorgan said. "The FCC's decision on June 2 advanced big corporate interests, and did so at the expense of the public interest. They chose concentration over competition."
For more information visit www.fcc.gov.