Senate Judiciary Committee Reports "Free Flow Of Information" Act - Little Prospect For Passage This Year

The Senate Judiciary Committee made further progress on its media shield proposal, the Free Flow Of Information Act Of 2013, by releasing its Senate Report 113-118 for S. 987; given increased interest on this issue earlier in the year, the question now is when the full Senate may consider the legislation? The House of Representatives has passed comparable legislation in prior years

On November 6, 2013, the Senate Judiciary Committee released Senate Report 113-118 recommending adoption of S. 987, the Free Flow Of Information Act Of 2013.

As summarized by the Report, the Act will:

create a qualified privilege for journalists to withhold information that they obtain under the promise of confidentiality. This bill strikes a balance between journalists’ need to maintain confidentiality in order to preserve the public’s right to know about important issues with the necessity of effective law enforcement. The bill provides standards that would govern when a person or organization that is covered by the Act may be compelled to reveal the identity of a confidential source or information that was provided under a promise of confidentiality. These standards would apply to governmental and private entities in both civil and criminal investigations and cases.
S. Rep. No. 113-118, 113th Cong., 1st Sess. 2 (Nov. 6, 2013).

It is unlikely that the measure will see any further movement during this year. With both chambers of Congress out for the Thanksgiving break, potentially only four days remain in the 2013 legislative schedule when both houses will concurrently meet for the transaction of business. Those four days span from Tuesday, December 10 through Friday, December 13. After that, the holiday recess begins and Congress is not expected to return to Washington until the second session of the 113th Congress begins new year. This schedule does not leave much room for the Senate, which, like the House will probably struggle to adopt a budget, at risk of another government shutdown if Congress leaves this business for resolution when it returns for its second session in the New Year.

The Federal Evidence Blog previously reported on the Senate Judiciary Committee's passage of S. 987 as amended in September, 2013. See Federal Media Shield Law Headed To Senate Floor? With the release of the Senate Committee's report on the media shield proposal, we can probably answer the question posed by the September blog. Is S.987 "Headed To Senate Floor?" Not likely until next year.

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