House Foes Claim Votes vs. FCC


Washington -- Members of Congress fighting new broadcast-ownership rules adopted by the Federal Communications Commission in June said Tuesday that a House majority exists to overturn the FCC if Speaker J. Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.) would only schedule a vote.

"We have the votes to win this," Rep. Bernard Sanders (I-Vt.) said at a Capitol Hill press conference. "We think we have the votes."

"I will predict that if you get this to the House floor for a vote, it will pass," Sen. Byron Dorgan (D-N.D.) told reporters. "The Speaker will try every way to block that. I understand that."

Last month, the Senate passed a resolution sponsored by Dorgan that would void the FCC's rules. But Hastert and Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-Texas) said immediately after the Sept. 16 vote that they would not support a House vote on the same resolution.

Last Friday, 190 House members -- 28 votes shy of a majority -- sent Hastert a letter requesting a vote, given the strong interest in the issue. Eight House Republicans signed the letter.

"The Senate has addressed this matter and executed its responsibility. In the House of Representatives, we should do no less," the one-page letter said.

If, as expected, House leaders do not respond favorably, Rep. Maurice Hinchey (D-N.Y.) said he planned to force a House vote by obtaining 218 signatures on a discharge petition.

"We are seeking a vote now," said Hinchey, who expects the House to remain in session a few more weeks before adjourning for the year.

The White House has threatened to veto legislation that would roll back the FCC's new rules. Meanwhile, a panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit stayed the FCC's rules from taking effect pending appeal.