Federal shield legislation delayed by amendment process

Senate Judiciary Committee members agreed today to decide on a timeframe for considering any final amendments to the proposed federal media shield law, possibly setting time limits on discussion of the amendments.

The bill’s sponsor, Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., proposed at today’s markup hearing that senators, including Arlen Specter, D-Pa., Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., Jon Kyl, R-Ariz., Jeff Sessions, R-Ala., and Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, meet to agree on a strict time limit to consider each possible amendment before the committee’s next business meeting.The committee has still to consider at least 26 amendments to the bill before it can vote.

Schumer has previously said he would be wiling to invoke Senate Rule XIV, which could allow the legislation to bypass the committee and move to the Senate floor, and Chairman Leahy said he would not object to bypassing the committee if the senators could not reach a consensus.

In past weeks, the bill has stalled in committee as senators opposed to portions of it, including Kyl and Sessions, discussed their concerns at length. Bill sponsors, with the support of the Obama administration, have been pushing to have a committee vote on the legislation as it stands.

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