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Obama, Bush at Odds Over Media-Ownership Vote

The fight over the Federal Communications Commission's Dec. 18 media-ownership vote set up a potential battle between the current president and a senator who wants to be the next one.

Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) Thursday urged the House to follow the Senate's lead and pass a resolution of disapproval, an unusual legislative maneuver that would invalidate the FCC's decision to allow TV and radio stations and newspapers to be co-owned in the top 20 markets, subject to some conditions.

After the Senate approved the measure, Obama, a co-sponsor of the bill, released a statement saying, "I urge my colleagues in the House of Representatives to expeditiously pass the legislation."

He framed the vote, as he has before, as standing up to "Washington special interests," a campaign theme. "Our nation’s media market must reflect the diverse voices of our population, and it is essential that the FCC promotes the public interest and diversity in ownership," he said.

At almost the same time, Secretary of Commerce Carlos Gutierrez was releasing his own statement decrying the vote. “Overturning the FCC’s approach will actually discourage a diversity of media voices and will hinder efforts to enhance local content by preventing some ownership arrangements that could provide additional financing to sustain local newspapers," he said.

Gutierrez also reiterated his plan to advise the president to veto the bill if it passes in the House. The administration Thursday also weighed in against the resolution and told the Senate that other top advisers were counseling the president to veto it.