Saturday, May 22, 2010

Major Milestone: Senate Hearing!

Less than a month after it was introduced, S 3304, the Equal Access to 21st Century Communications Act, is getting a hearing in the Senate! The hearing will be held Wednesday, May 26, 2010 at 2:30 pm in the Russell Building, room 253. Why are we getting a hearing so soon when it has been almost a year since the introduction of the House bill HR 3101? Answer: the Senate bill is cosponsored by the subcommittee chairman, John Kerry!

Link: US Senate Hearing on S.3304-H.R.3101 Issues Set for Wed May 26, 2:30 PM Russell Building Room 253

It really makes a huge difference when the bill is supported by the chairman. S 3304 has only three cosponsors, whereas HR 3101 has 47! The number of cosponsors is not what matters in terms of determining whether a bill gets a hearing; support from the chairman and other members of the subcommittee are what matter! In fact, Mr. Kerry said (in part):

no one should be or has to be excluded from modern communications and the new economy because of a disability

So things are looking good in the Senate! This is a very big deal; most bills do not even make it to the point of getting a hearing. The (hearing) media has been contacted, and hopefully someone will cover the hearing.

What will happen next? Caption Action 2 checked with someone more familiar with politics than Caption Action 2 (we are advocates, not politicians!) and we were told that the bill could get reported out of the Subcommittee to the full committee. There would not be another hearing, but the full committee could vote. Then it could go to the full Senate for a vote - but that depends on the Senate Majority Leader, in this case Senator Harry Reid.

Again, we are doing good in the Senate so far! However, we still have a problem in the House with subcommittee chairman Rick Boucher not moving the bill to the floor for a hearing. Almost 50 cosponsors including one on the subcommittee itself, and Boucher still has not moved it. The hope is that passage in the Senate will send a strong message to the House.

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  1. Here's hoping it goes well with the bill, and that the House takes notice too.

  2. It gets harder to understand why Boucher hasn't moved the bill despite the growing support for it and the Kerry statement that a disability shouldn't bar access to the internet. Some things are just understood and yet some don't get it.

    All the best to your great work on watchdogging this bill! When it passes it will be a tribute to your efforts.