Congress Watch: No Reporter Shield Law Expected In This Congress

After passage in the House and approval by the Senate Judiciary Committee, action for passage of a reporter shield law seems to have slowed. "The Free Flow of Information Act" (S. 2035) now appears on hold and it is considered likely the 110th Congress will expire without action on the measure.

The latest action - or more properly, lack of action - on S. 2035 was a vote by the Senate on July 30, 2008. In Senate Vote #191 the Senate rejected a cloture motion to proceed with discussion of S. 2035 (Motion to invoke cloture on the motion to proceed to consider S. 2035). The vote was primarily along party lines, with 51 Democrats voting for cloture (so that the Senate could take up the measure), 44 against cloture (of whom 43 were Republicans) and six not voting. A two-thirds vote of the Senate (60 votes) was necessary for cloture and to proceed with the bill.

The Washington Post described the result of the Senate's cloture debate as: "Senate Republicans yesterday blocked a vote on a controversial law that would protect reporters from having to testify about their confidential sources, refusing to begin debate until the chamber addresses a bill that would promote more domestic oil and gas production." Washington Post, “Vote on Journalist Shield Stalled: Senate GOP Won’t Debate Until Oil and Gas Bill is Considered,” by Walter Pincus, July 31, 2008.

The day before the cloture debate, proponents of the journalist shield law submitted an amendment to the bill, responding to some objections of opponents. This new version of S. 2035 was introduced by Senators Arlen Specter (R-Pa), Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Richard Lugar (R-Ind.). The bill was submitted in the form of an amendment by substitution.

For past blog posts on the reporter shield legislation, see Reporter Shield Law.

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