Senators continue moves to block FCC ownership rules

In an alternative approach to killing the FCC’s new ownership rules, 35 senators have embraced a little-used law in an attempt to fast track the issue to the full U.S. Senate.

A “resolution of disapproval,”— a rule allowed under the Congressional Review Act — has been placed on the Senate calendar for expedited consideration because it has more than the 30 signatures required to move it out of committee without a vote.

The maneuver is designed to get quick Senate action on the issue while sentiment against the FCC's actions runs high. Sen. Byron L. Dorgan (D-N.D.), the lead sponsor of the resolution, signed on 28 Democrats and seven Republicans. The measure is co-sponsored by eight senators, including Trent Lott (R-Miss.), Ernest F. Hollings (D-S.C.) and presidential candidate John F. Kerry (D-Mass.).

“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,” said Dorgan.

The resolution would require a simple majority of the Senate for passage. Dorgan expressed optimism that the Senate would vote on the measure before the August recess: “I hope it puts pressure on the House,” he said.

Dorgan’s resolution would roll back the FCC's rules, fixing the 35 percent limit in law and reinstating the newspaper-television cross-ownership ban. If the Senate approves the resolution, it moves directly to the House calendar, bypassing committees, such as those headed by Rep. W.J. “Billy” Tauzin (R-La.), a powerful supporter of the new FCC rules.

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