House Telco Bill: COPE HR5252

Posted on May 14, 2006 - 7:41pm.

This information on this page is for archival purposes. Though the COPE Bill passed in the House, the Senate version of the bill stalled and never became federal law.

H.R. 5252: Referred to as COPE
Read COPE HR5252 (introduced May 2, 2006)
HR5252 Status: Approved in House Telecommunications Subcommittee Mark-up session and later in the full Commerce Committee. The Bill was passed by the House June 8th 2006.

Also see the info on the Senate version of this bill here. The Senate companion Bill failed to pass in the 109th Congress and is dead. The telcos spent hundreds of millions on this failed legislation - expect to see your phone rates rise as a result.

HR 5252-COPE passed on June 8th 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.

It's worth pointing out that COPE was sponsored, some would say railroaded, by Rep. Barton of Texas. Of the amendments allowed into the final legislation, four of the eight were sponsored by Reps from Texas. The six amendments that were finally included pretended to address key issues, but they actually created huge loopholes that favor phone company interests. We encouage you to write your representatives and ask them why they voted for COPE - we have a letter 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

COPE Commerce Committee Votes:
We've posted a voting scorecard for COPE from the Commerce Committee vote (with telco donations). NATOA has also put out a scorecard of the vote on each amendment.

Save Access COPE archive pages
Our updates from the Commerce Committee vote can be found here.
Our original COPE campaign page is here.
Our countdown of the full House vote is here.

About COPE - HR5252
COPE HR5252 is a bill created by Rep Joe Barton (TX) . It is an update of previous drafts known as BITS I and BITS II. This is a bi-partisan Bill, the democratic co-sponsor is Democratic Rep. Bobby Rush (IL) whose non-profit community center received one million dollars in donations from an AT&T/SBC foundation over the past five years. Rep. Barton has pushed hard to get this legislation passed quickly and without revision. During the Telecommunications Subcommittee markup process, Democratic amendments were either voted down or excluded. Barton deferred many amendments personally and instead added his own changes in the 'manager's writeup'.

The Barton/Cope Act as presently written will severely impact the thousands of Public, Educational and Governmental Access channels and facilities around the country. The legislation effectively removes local municipal control over local rights-of-way and removes local voices from the process of negotiating for local video franchises.

Under COPE cities would recieve a 5% fee with an additional 1% going to PEG services. This is the problem for many larger cities who currently receive a larger percentage, under COPE, their PEG services would be reduced and cut back. A 'Do No Harm' amendment by Baldwin/Wilson was voted down. Many other unanswered questions arise with the loss of local oversight and the transfer of auditing and accounting obligations to the FCC.

The COPE legislation would eliminate 'net neutrality' by allowing internet providers (phone and cable companies) the right to charge for preferential content delivery, creating a multitiered internet based on the ability to pay.

Even worse, under COPE, communications providers will no longer be required to 'build-out' their networks equitably, that is, they can offer the new services in a wealthy neighborhood but neglect an adjacent low-income community (this is referred to as red-lining). The overall effect of this legislation will be devastating to what we consider to be the basic principles of democratic media in our society, it will effect all of us.

Additional information on COPE can be found at:
Benton Foundation
Tech Law Summary
Common Cause
Free Press: Untangling the Telecom Act/

( categories: HR.5252 COPE )