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Commerce Defeats Anti-Discrimination Amendment

The House Commerce Committee found itself in the uncomfortable position Wednesday of voting against an amendment to a national video franchising bill that would prevent discrimination of service based on race, religion, sex, or national origin.

Chairman Joe Barton (R-Tex.) said that he and all members of the committee opposed any form of discrimination. But he said that current law already covered any such discrimination and that to introduce the amendment would allow the bill to be referred to the judiciary Committee, where "mischief" could happen to the bill that could delay passage.

Barton said that current civil rights statutes are explicit in their opposition to discrimination, and "every member is steadfast in enforcement of [those] rights.... I don't think it is needed."The amendment's supporters, including Democrat Hilda Solis of California, countered that the House parliamentarian had said that the amendment would not trigger a Judiciary review, but she appeared to be in the minority in that belief.

The amendment was defeated 29-23.