Washington , D.C.---U.S. Representatives Tom Allen(D-ME) and Charles Bass (R-NH) today applauded the decision by the House Leadership to delay consideration of H.R. 1606, the Online Freedom of Speech Act, so that new rules governing Internet political communication adopted on Monday by the Federal Election Commission (FEC) may take effect and provided the proper level of Congressional oversight."The new FEC rule makes H.R. 1606 unnecessary, and we appreciate the decision by House Leadership to delay action on this bill to let the FEC rule take effect," Representatives Allen and Bass said. "This is the outcome that bloggers and good government reformers have sought. Our bipartisan legislation, H.R. 4900, the Internet Free Speech Protection Act, helped to steer the debate and offered an alternative that would provide much more protection to Internet users and their right to comment freely on federal campaigns than H.R. 1606 would have offered. When the FEC issued its rule, we acted quickly to incorporate their well thought out language directly into H.R. 4900. Our legislation would exempt most blog operators and individuals from the campaign finance regulations and obligations, without creating the soft money loophole that would have resulted under H.R.1606.""Representatives Tom Allen and Charles Bass have provided enormously important leadership," Fred Wertheimer, President and Chief Executive Officer of Democracy 21, a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization dedicated to protecting the integrity of the nation's campaign finance laws. "They have played the central role in blocking legislation that would have returned corrupting, unlimited soft money to federal campaigns and unraveled the campaign finance laws. We owe Representatives Allen and Bass a deep debt of gratitude for taking on and prevailing in this critical battle to prevent new gaping soft money loopholes in the campaign finance laws."
"We believe the outcome of this debate is a real victory for citizens who use the Internet for political discussion and organizing," said John Morris, Director, Internet Standards, Technology and Policy Project at the Center for Democracy & Technology. "H.R. 4900, sponsored by Congressmen Allen and Bass, helped to highlight the need to broadly exempt bloggers and other online speakers from the full range of campaign finance rules. Although not perfect, the rules issued by the Commission make clear that Americans can freely engage in robust and constructive online political debate throughout the 2006 election cycle."