House Majority Leader John Boehner (R.-Ohio) announced today that the Online Freedom of Speech Act (H.R. 1606) won’t be going to the floor anytime soon.
Here’s Boehner’s statement on the matter:
"Both Rep. Jeb Hensarling and House Administration Committee Chairman Vernon Ehlers deserve great credit for bringing the issue of online freedom of speech to the forefront of public debate and for spurring the FEC to take what appears to be a hands-off approach to the Internet.
"The recent action by the FEC, leaving virtually all political activity on the Internet free of regulation, ensures that those engaging in politics online can continue to do so safe in the knowledge that they will not run afoul of our campaign finance laws. In light of this good faith effort by the FEC, and after discussions with the bill’s sponsor, we have postponed floor action on the bill at this time.
"The House will closely monitor the implementation of the new rule to ensure it protects bloggers and others engaging in politics online. If the new rule does not offer the appropriate protection, of if there are efforts to expand its regulatory scope, the House will resume plans to consider the Hensarling bill in order to guarantee freedom of speech on the Internet."
Update: 4:57 p.m.:
Hensarling sent out a response to the majority leader’s announcement this afternoon:
"While I’m disappointed that HR 1606 will not pass the House this week, I am optimistic that a proven majority stands willing to defend free speech on the Internet.
"Although I do not agree with the precedent set by the court or the FEC’s ruling, I understand if the small but vocal minority opposed to HR 1606 had its way these limited regulations could be far worse.
"Should the forces of regulation choose to fight these modest rules or advance further restrictions on political speech over the Internet, I am confident the House will act decisively to protect Americans’ First Amendment rights."