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Anne Lindner

No Dice in the House for Bachus Bill... Yet

5 June 2003

HR 2143 was pulled from the House of Representatives schedule again today before it could come to a vote.

The bill, which states that merchants cannot accept bank instruments as payment for illegal online gambling transactions in the United States, was introduced by Rep. Spencer Bachus, R-Ala., on May 20 in the Financial Services Committee.

The Bachus bill is the same as the anti-Internet gambling bill put forth by Rep. James Leach, R-Iowa, which was stripped of its carve-outs for the horse racing, dog racing, lottery and casino industries in the Judiciary Committee. Bachus offered his version of the bill as a way to advance Leach's cause without having to subject the bill to the same amendments that Leach's received.

The Bachus bill lacks the Leach bill's civil and criminal enforcements and therefore would not be subject to a markup in the Judiciary Committee.

A Washington, D.C. source who did not want to be named said the Bachus bill was pulled from the House agenda today because it was facing an amendment from Resources Committee Chairman Richard W. Pombo (R-Calif.) that would have provided exemptions for Native American gambling operators. The source said Leach supporters are having a hard time passing this bill even though it was thought to be a popular cause on Capitol Hill just months ago.

"Even if they manage to get this thing through (the House), three months ago this was the unstoppable bill, now it's a quagmire at best, a disaster at worst," the source said.

A spokesman for the Financial Services Committee, whose chairman, Rep. Michael Oxley, R-Ohio, is one of the bill's most avid supporters, said the bill was pulled today because Attorney General John Ashcroft was scheduled to testify in the Judiciary Committee today, and that Judiciary Committee members wouldn't be able to offer amendments to HR 2143 if they wanted to. Scott Duncan, the Financial Services spokesman, said it looks like the bill will be put on the House schedule next week.

Jeff Lungren, spokesman for the Judiciary Committee, confirmed that Judiciary Chairman F. James Sensenbrenner Jr., R-Wis., and the rest of the committee, had been tied up until 2 p.m. with the Ashcroft testimony. Lungren said he would expect the House leadership to continue to pursue the bill.

No Dice in the House for Bachus Bill... Yet is republished from
Anne Lindner
Anne Lindner