No Hope for COPE - House Passes Telco Bill

Posted on June 8, 2006 - 10:56am.

Last update: Monday, June 12
HR 5252-COPE passes by a margin of 321-101
Nearly all Republicans and a majority of the Democrats voted for the Resolution and the interests of their corporate patrons, the telephone companies. The net neutrality amendment was defeated and was excluded from this bill. The final resolution with the attached amendments is not just bad - it's ridiculously bad. We can only hope the Senate will act with greater integrity, truthfulness and foresight.

Final Vote Tallies are below, we also have a list of how Democratic Representatives voted on COPE here.

Final Roll Call Vote on Passage of COPE HR. 5252
Final Roll Call Vote on Smith Amendment
Final Roll Call Vote on Markey Amendment (net neutrality)
Final Roll Call Vote on Motion to Recommit


from earlier on June 7-8th:
We will be posting timely updates of the tragedy unfolding in the House of Representatives as our elected officials vote on the COPE Bill (HR 5252).

Thursday, June 8
12:00 noon
The House of Representatives is currently debating the outcome of the Rules Committee.

Rep. Baldwin (WI) raised a procedural challenge on the elimination of her amendment that would have protected PEG. She cited the Congressional Budget Office's concern that the COPE Bill creates 'un-funded mandates' by decreasing the franchise fees currently paid to local governments. Rep. Baldwin cited ACM figures and other data to demonstrate her point. Barton and Upton challenged, claiming the 5+1% franchise fee model actually exceeds currently local franchise fees (this is absolutely false). Rep. Markey challenged the Chair and was ignored. A vote was called for and by 254 to 166 the House voted to proceed with debate on the Rule, waiving the CBO claim and all other points of order. The vote fell primarily on party lines with some Democratic defections.

The house proceeded with about two hours of debate on amendments to COPE before postponing the procedural vote until later in the day.

5:30 pm The Procedural Vote on the Bill resumed again and passed 262-152
Yes: 218 Republican / 44 Democrat
No: 0 Republican / 150 Democrat / 1 Independent
No Vote: 21

6:00 pm the debate on the resolution has resumed in the House and is in process - it's not clear if they will have a final vote tonight. The House chamber is nearly empty. An issue repeated several times by the minority was that the Rules Committee repeatedly refused to consider Democratic Amendments last night. Half of the included amendments were submitted by representatives from Texas.

7:00 pm General Debate is winding down, a shorter debate on the net neutrality amendment is expected later. Amendments are to be voted on now.

7:10 pm The Barton (TX) Manager's Amendment passes in a voice vote

7:20 pm The Jackson Lee (TX) Amendment is discussed. Jackson Lee introduced it with hesitancy - she heard from constituents today (loudly) that her amendment will actually impact negatively on woman and minorities working in PEG. Bobby Rush spoke in support of the amendment - but was very unclear. She has now withdrawn the amendment.

7:30 Wynn (MD) Amendment passed by voice vote without objection

7:40 Johnson (TX) Amendment discussed. This is the amendment that increases the fine for a cable operator that denies access to cable service to residents because of the income of that group. But since red-lining provisions are so poorly defined, there is no danger that any cable operator will ever have to pay this fine. This is a meaningless amendment - supported by Barton - it passed by voice vote.

7:50 Rush (IL) Amendment passed without objection.

8:00 Smith (TX) Amendment being debated. It is called a net neutrality 'trojan horse' by Rep. Conyers. Barton supports it. Rep. Lofgren says 'this amendment does nothing . . . it's a phony'. Passed by voice vote - an electronic vote is requested

8:30 Markey (MA)/Eshoo (CA)/Boucher (VA)/Inslee (WA) Amendment (net neutrality) The amendment is defeated in a voice vote - an electronic vote is requested by Markey

8:50 Gutknecht (MN)/Boyd (FL)/Skelton (MO)/Herseth (SD)/Stupak (MI)/Peterson, John (PA) Amendment - A supplemental USF bill, Passes in voice vote.

8:55 pm Electronic voting in process for Markey and Smith Amendments as requested.

9:40 pm A Notice to Recommit (send resolution back to committee) was made by Democrats and voted down in a voice vote - an electronic vote was requested, the motion was killed 256-165.
Yes: 2 Republican / 162 Democrat / 1 Independent
No: 220 Republican / 37 Democrat
No Vote: 12

10:00 pm A vote on HR 5252 passage is in progress electronically.

10:05 pm HR 5252 COPE passes by a margin of 321-101
Nearly all Republicans and a majority of the Democrats voted for the Resolution ensuring the interests of their corporate patrons.
Yes: 215 Republican / 106 Democrat
No: 8 Republican / 92 Democrat / 1 Independent
No Vote: 11

For other observations of today's events, see Harold Feld's site Wet Machine.

We'll have more information tomorrow.

Wednesday, June 7
The House Rules committee met to determine which amendments would be allowed into HR 5252 or COPE.

The Rules Committee results can be downloaded here.
Rules Committee Members (9 Republicans, 4 Democrats)
Drew Clark
National Journal

Brief rundown on amendments:

1) The Baldwin/Wilson Amendment (Do NO Harm) was DEFEATED. This amendment would have protected the PEG franchise fees in cities now receiving more than the 5+1% fee specified in HR 5252. Losing this amendment will devastate PEG centers around the country.

2) The Markey (MA)/Eshoo (CA)/Boucher (VA)/Inslee (WA) Amendment was PASSED. This is good news for Net Neutrality supporters, but without PEG protections the Bill is a bitter pill - we lose First Amendment Rights and access to Cable TV in exchange for maintaining equitable access speeds on the internet.

3) The Jackson-Lee (TX) Amendment was PASSED. This amendment could further erode what's left of PEG. It reduces the fee paid to local franchise authorities for PEG/iNet support by women-owned, small businesses, and socially and economically disadvantaged firms from 1% to 0.5%. In doing so, it eliminates jobs for women and minorities in PEG. Also, under this amendment, COX Cable could qualify for fee reductions - the company went private last year and is controlled by the two Cox sisters.

4) Amendments setting enforceable timetables for 'Build-Out' to prevent red-lining of services were defeated. The Bill currently offer no red-lining protections.

( categories: HR.5252 COPE )