Capitol Hill conservatives are bracing for the 2014 lame duck session with memories of the 2010 lame duck session, when Republican leaders partnered with President Barack Obama to end Don’t Ask Don’t Tell and jam through a nuclear treaty with the Russians.
One of the pieces of legislation lurking in the shadows is the bill to outlaw online gambling, drafted by Republican fundraiser and casino mogul Sheldon Adelson.
The legislation was dropped March 26 with two companion bills, H.R. 4301, ‚??Restoration of America’s Wire Act,‚?Ě sponsored by Rep. Jason Chaffetz and S. 2159, sponsored by Sen. Lindsey O. Graham (R.-S.C.).
The title of the legislation refers to the Justice Department’s Dec. 23, 2011 move to reinterpret The Interstate Wire Act of 1961, which had been interpreted to prohibited online gambling, to a DOJ interpretation that held that the Wire Act did not ban online gambling.
Of course, the 1961 law makes no mention of web-based gambling.
Backing the legislation is a collection of Republicans, under the umbrella of the Adelson funded group ‚??Coalition to Stop Internet Gambling‚?Ě that includes former New York governor George Pataki, Texas Gov. J. Richard ‚??Rick‚?Ě Perry and South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley.
Although conservatives blocked and stalled the legislation in the regular session, the House Republican leadership told Senate Majority Leader Sen. Harry Reid (D.-Nev.) that is he wants to move on the bill before he hands control of the chamber to Minority Leader A. Mitchell McConnell (R.-Ky.) all he has to do is ask.
Conservatives object to the legislation for three reasons of varying importance depending on the member.
First, it is considered bad government to so blatantly do the bidding of a contributor. Second, members committed to federalism see states making their own laws and regulation of online gambling and do not want to feds to tamper with the states with Soviet-style bans issued from Washington. Finally, the more libertarian members are uncomfortable with the federal government directly lifestyle and recreation choices.
Adelson has been a reliable and generous supporter of the GOP establishment for years and before he asked Congress to outlaw his Internet competition, his only ask was for unwavering support of Israel.
Although there are only 11 scheduled business days before the old Congress passes to the new Congress, GOP House leaders have a much better grip on the conference as there are still 11 committee chairmanships up for grabs and regular members are jockeying for better committee assignments.
Now, the question is what does Reid want?