Congress Watch: Legislation: Free Flow of Information Act of 2009

Legislation:


Free Flow of Information Act of 2009


Overview

In the 111th Congress, Congress has considered the Free Flow of Information Act of 2009. Two primary measures were under consideration, H.R. 985 in the House of Representatives, and S. 448 in the Senate.

The legislation would establish a qualified reporters' privilege protecting them from being compelled to identify confidential source information. The House version of the bill differs in significant ways from the Senate version, for example S. 448 includes a more expansive definition of who is covered by the privilege than found in H.R. 985. On the other hand, the House version seems to contain some broader confidentiality protections than the Senate version.

For more information concerning the legislation, see Reporter Shield Law Blog Posts.

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Timeline: S.448 Congressional Action


DateS. 448 Congressional Action
Feb. 13, 2009Senator Arlen Specter (R-PA) introduces S. 448, 111th Cong., 1st Sess. (2009), which is referred to the Senate Judiciary Committee; Title: A bill to maintain the free flow of information to the public by providing conditions for the federally compelled disclosure of information by certain persons connected with the news media. See 154 Cong. Rec. S2340-42 (daily ed. Feb. 13, 2009) (statement of Sen. Specter upon introduction).
Sept. 10, 2009Senators Specter, Schumer, Graham and Klobuchar offer a substitute amendment to S. 448 in the Senate Judiciary Committee.
Dec. 10, 2009Senate Judiciary Committee report amended measure to the Senate. See Senate Judiciary Committee Results of Executive Business Meeting (Dec. 10, 2009).
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Timeline: H.R. 985 Congressional Action


DateH.R.985 Congressional Action
Feb. 11, 2009Rep Rick Boucher (D-VA) introduces H.R.985, 111th Cong., 1st Sess. (2009), which is referred to the House Judiciary Committee; Title: To maintain the free flow of information to the public by providing conditions for the federally compelled disclosure of information by certain persons connected with the news media. See 154 Cong. Rec. E242-243 (daily ed. Feb. 11, 2009) (statement by Rep. Boucher on introduction).
March 25, 2009House Judiciary Committee consideration and markup. Measure reported out of committee on voice vote. See Markup Transcript (beginning at p. 35).
March 30, 2009House Judiciary Committee reports H.R. 985, as amended, to the House of Representatives. See H. Rep. No. 61, 111th Cong., 1st Sess. (2009).
March 31, 2009House of Representatives passes H.R. 985 in a voice vote. See 154 Cong. Rec. H4204-09 (daily ed. March 31, 2009).
April 1, 2009H.R. 985 is received in the Senate. See 154 Cong. Rec. S4169 (daily ed. Apr. 1, 2009).
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Prior Action: House


DatePrior House Action
May 2, 2007Rep Rick Boucher (D-VA) introduces H.R. 2102, 110th Cong., 1st Sess. (2007), which is referred to the House Judiciary Committee
June 14, 2007Free Flow Of Information Act Of 2007. Hearing before the House Judiciary Committee, 110th Cong., 1st Sess. (2007) (Serial No. 110–30)
August 1, 2007House Judiciary Committee consideration and markup. See Markup Transcript (beginning at p. 15).
Oct. 10, 2007House Judiciary Committee reports H.R. 2102, as amended, to the House of Representatives. See H. Rep. No. 370, 110th Cong., 1st Sess. (2007).
Oct. 16, 2007H.R. 2102 is approved by the House of Representatives by a vote of 398-21 (identical to H.R. 985, 111th Cong., 1st Sess. (2009) (as introduced). See 153 Cong. Rec. H11587-H11603 (daily ed. Oct. 16, 2007).
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Prior Action: Senate


DatePrior Senate Action
July 20, 2005Reporters’ Privilege Legislation: Issues And Implications, Hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee, 109th Cong., 1st Sess. (July 20, 2005) (Serial No. J–109–31).
Oct. 19, 2005Reporters’ Privilege Legislation: An Additional Investigation Of Issues And Implications, Hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee, 109th Cong., 1st Sess. (Oct. 19, 2005) (Serial No. J–109–44)
Sept. 20, 2006Reporters’ Privilege Legislation: Preserving Effective Federal Law Enforcement, Hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee, 109th Cong., 2d Sess. (Sept. 20, 2006) (Serial No. J–109–111).
Sept. 10, 2007Senator Arlen Specter (R-PA) introduces S. 2035, 110th Cong., 1st Sess. (2007), which is referred to the Senate Judiciary Committee; Title: A bill to maintain the free flow of information to the public by providing conditions for the federally compelled disclosure of information by certain persons connected with the news media. See 153 Cong. Rec. S11329-30 (daily ed. Sept. 10, 2007) (statement of Sen. Specter upon introducing measure).
Oct. 22, 2007Senate Judiciary Committee reports S. 2035 with amendments and without report.
April 2, 2008Attorney General Michael B. Mukasey and Director of National Intelligence J. M. McConnell letter to Senate leadership opposing S. 2035
July 28, 2008 Senate begins consideration of S. 2035. See 153 Cong. Rec. S7554 (daily ed. July 28, 2008).
July 29, 2008Senate debate on consideration of S. 2035. See 153 Cong. Rec. S7595-7619 (daily ed. July 29, 2008); 153 Cong. Rec. S7704-7708 (daily ed. July 29, 2008).
July 30, 2008Senate is unable to invoke cloture, by a vote of 51 to 43, on S. 2035, and motion to proceed to consideration of measure withdrawn. See 153 Cong. Rec. S7721 (daily ed. July 30, 2008) (Record Vote Number); see also 154 Cong. Rec. S2341 (Feb. 13, 2009) (recounting history).
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