Magazine article Nation's Cities Weekly

An Analysis: What the Cable Bill Means for Local Governments

Magazine article Nation's Cities Weekly

An Analysis: What the Cable Bill Means for Local Governments

Article excerpt

On July 23, the House passed sweeping NLC-supported legislation designed to protect consumers, spur competition, and lower rates for cable television. The vote passed by an overwhelming 340 to 73 vote--a solid victory for cities and individual consumers that took the cable industry by surprise.

A companion bill in the Senate also passed by a strong margin (73-18) in January. The bills now move to Conference Committee, where Members from both Houses work to hammer out a compromise that will be sent to the White House.

President Bush has already threatened to veto re-regulatory cable legislation.

This, however, is an election year, and in an election year anything can happen. The American people have sent a clear signal to Congress, and to the President, that they do not believe that the people in Washington are doing anything meaningful for them. Citing a Consumer Federation of America estimate, Congressman Edward Markey (D-Mass.), said cable monopolies overcharge consumers $6 billion a year.

"Think of this bill tonight as a six billion dollar tax cut for the consumers of America," Markey said.

At a time when voters are suspicious of the federal government, the bill has been touted by its sponsors as the biggest consumer vote of the year. This, in addition to the closeness of the Presidential race, makes strong cable legislation an item the White House can ill afford to veto.

But even if a veto is carried out, the strength of the Congressional vote and the political popularity of the issue threaten to break Bush's unbroken record of 31 sustained vetoes. …

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