WASHINGTON, July 23 — The House of Representatives overwhelmingly passed legislation today to block a new rule supported by the Bush administration that would permit the nation’s largest television networks to grow bigger by owning more stations.
The vote, which was 400 to 21, sets the stage for a rare confrontation between the Republican-controlled Congress and the White House, because there is strong support in the Senate for similar measures, which seek to roll back last month’s decision by the Federal Communications Commission to raise the limit on the number of television stations a network can own.
I think that a margin this large leaves the White House little room to follow through on its veto threat, however. So it looks like the rules change is dead.
I was also curious to see who the 21 opposers were, so I went to the roll call vote. Not too much exciting in terms of who voted against the bill. There were five Democrats, but no big names. The only big names Republicans voting against were Oxley and Tauzin. Now apparently recovered from his brush with death (in the form of 71-year old fruitcake-yelling Rep. Pete Stark), Rep. Scott MicInnis was also able to vote against the bill.
More interesting than who voted against was this name in the list of representatives who did not vote: Dick Gephardt. I know Gephardt is campaigning and all, but this was a pretty big issue to Democrats, particularly the ones most likely to vote in the primaries.