When the House Judiciary Committee adjourned without a final vote on the Stop Online Piracy Act, the expectation was that they wouldn’t take up the matter again until next year. After all, HJC Chairman Lamar Smith appeared to agree to allow technical experts give testimony on the implications of the bill to the Internet’s architecture, particularly the Domain Name System. Surely that would take some time. But quietly, Smith announced a resumption of the markup for this Wednesday, at a time when Congress may not even be in session.
The House Judiciary Committee plans to resume its markup of the controversial Stop Online Piracy Act on Wednesday.
A notice went out to staff late Friday to prepare to resume the markup on Wednesday, provided the House is still in session. There had been talk of the session being postponed until the new year [...]
Smith indicated Friday he was amenable to a suggestion from Chaffetz that the Committee hear from cybersecurity experts within the government on the bill’s potential impact on the domain name system, but it was unclear whether that would take place before the scheduled markup on Wednesday.
Considering the delay on the payroll tax cut bill, it’s likely the House will be in session on Wednesday now. But reporters, expecting business to conclude on Monday, may not stick around. It’s not assured that members of Congress will return to Washington failing a need to vote on the floor. So this could be a sparsely attended session under cover of at least more anonymity than last week. At the very least, a skeptical public will be distracted a few days from Christmas.
Why are members of the House Judiciary Committee so hell-bent on pushing through this measure that they refuse to hear testimony from bill opponents and schedule the final day of markup when they hope nobody will look their way? The answer is simple: money. A review of campaign donations by the Center for Responsive Politics shows that sponsors of the bill have received nearly $2 million in donations from the entertainment industry since early 2009, almost four times as much as they have from software and Internet industries. Predictably, Hollywood supports SOPA and has driven its passage all along, while most Internet and tech giants oppose it.
Most of the sponsors of the bill are members of the committee, including both Chairman Lamar Smith and ranking member John Conyers. So this is about Hollywood purchasing a vote and doing what they can to make it happen.