Republicans earn praise for political file punt


Nancy PelosiTwo key House Democrats and at least one watchdog organization are applauding the decision in the House Appropriation Committee not to block the FCC’s proposal to put television political advertising information online.

An early version of a funding bill would have denied the FCC the funding it needs to implement the policy – instead, the committee decided to have GAO conduct an economic impact analysis.

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) said, ““Today, House Republicans reversed their opposition to a step for greater transparency in our politics. For a brief moment, Republicans saw the light, and as a result, America’s voters will benefit from increased accountability, expanded disclosure, and more access to information about the campaign ads flooding our airwaves.”

Pelosi continued, “With this small victory, we must keep moving ahead: to promote disclosure; to amend the Constitution and reverse the devastating effects of Supreme Court decisions that put special interests ahead of the public interest; to reform the system and empower the grassroots. We must ensure that the voices of the people determine the outcome of our elections, not the checkbooks of the few. We must build on today’s shift by House Republicans and work together toward a future of openness in our politics.”

House Communications Committee Ranking Member Anna Eshoo (D-CA) also weighed in, saying, “I applaud the Committee’s decision to revisit this issue and study the merits of the FCC’s commonsense transparency rule rather than shortchanging the American people by not allowing them access to public information online. The original language of Committee Republicans blocked the FCC’s plan to bring this already-public information online and into the 21st century. The public file plays a critical role in promoting transparency both in elections and in the use of public airwaves. Making the public file more accessible to the public by putting it online is the right thing to do.”

Representing the watchdog communicity was Free Press Action Fund Senior Policy Counsel Corie Wright, who said, “We are pleased that members of the Appropriations Committee have sided with the public and chosen transparency over secrecy, accessibility over inconvenience. The committee rightly abandoned an earlier measure that would have prevented the FCC from implementing these common-sense improvements.”

RBR-TVBR observation: Isn’t this kind of like praising somebody for obeying a 55 MPH speed limit when they’re driving a golf cart that tops out at 30 MPH? As we understood it, the main reason the defunding plank was stripped out of the bill wasn’t because it suddenly lost favor, it was because it appeared the FCC would be able to complete its action before the committee could get the bill passed.

We therefore think this issue may pop up again on the Hill, and we know it’s going to pop up in court. Stay tuned.