Shield Law Passes House

    October 17, 2007

The U.S. House of Representatives today voted on and passed a journalist shield bill which also covers bloggers. While still a long way from a law, this is an important step in the process toward becoming a law.

There is still a clause which restricts the benefit to bloggers to those who receive a “substantial portion of their livelihood” or “substantial financial gain” from the practice—and those who “regularly engage” in journalism. (This specific text is found in this PDF of the amendments, beginning on page 2, line 17.)

The bill passed its committee in August. A similar bill passed its Senate committee earlier this month. If you’ve forgotten your Mr. Smith Goes to Washington (or Schoolhouse Rock), for the bill to become law, however, we still have to:

  • pass some version of the bill through the Senate
  • have members of the House and the Senate come together in a correlation committee to work out differences between the two versions of the bill
  • have the whole House and the whole Senate vote on and pass the new version of the bill
  • be signed by the president—or at least not be vetoed

The last point might be difficult, with President Bush threatening to veto the bill. However, he has only exercised his veto four times—but three of the four have been in the last six months.

Additionally, the target date for adjournment is October 26 for the House and November 16 for the Senate. If a bill passes through those steps and goes to the president after November 6, if he doesn’t sign it into law, it will be automatically vetoed (a pocket veto).