Top Senate Republican Pushing For Thursday Indecency Vote
April 7, 2004

Senator Sam Brownback's attempt to jam his indecency bill through the Senate by getting it placed on the unanimous consent calendar ran into some resistance yesterday. Some Democrats weren't so eager to vote on legislation without having any debate on it first. Now Senate Republican leader Bill Frist is negotiating with Democrats to limit debate so the bill can be voted on on Thursday, allowing lawmakers to head home for the Easter break after approving harsh new indecency penalties for broadcasters and performers.

"Frist has been trying to work our time agreements with Democrats so that there will be a short debate and a vote on Thursday," The Hollywood Reporter quoted a GOP Senate aide as saying.

Limiting debate would be made easier if some of the more controversial proposals some Senators have been pushing to tack onto the bill were dropped. Already, Senator John Breaux (D-LA) is likely not to push for an amendment that would subject cable programmers to the same rules as over-the-air broadcasters, his aide told the Reporter. Another hot potato provision that may not survive final legislation is one that puts a one-year moratorium on the FCC's loosened media ownership laws.

The matter of socking individual performers with fines of up to $500,000 is likely to get some floor time. Hollywood lobbyists AFTRA and the Creative Coalition have been railing against that and now believe they have enough support for an amendment to ease performer fines. John McCain (R-AZ) and other Senators are talking about introducing an amendment that would make the fine structure the same for performers and licensees, and take into account the accused party's ability to pay.

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