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Rep.Scalise Attempts to Defund FCC Chief Diversity Officer

Rep. Steve Scalise (R-LA) introduced an amendment to the stop-gap continuing resolution (CR) that would have defunded the salary and expenses of FCC Chief Diversity Officer Mark Lloyd, along with other "czars" the Republicans said the administration had installed in positions of power that did not require congressional confirmation.

The amendment was voted down by voice vote (though a roll call vote was pending), but not before the fairness doctrine issue had once again briefly flared up on the House floor.

Scalise referred to a "fairness doctrine" czar trying to "undermine the First Amendment rights of talk radio hosts." He did not name Lloyd, with the bill simply identifying Lloyd's position as one that would get no salary and thus would be zeroed out, though a staffer confirmed it was Lloyd they were talking about.

"There may be some people on the other side who don't like some things said on talk radio. That's their prerogative," said Scalise. "The beauty is you've got a first amendment that dictates and you've got a marketplace."
Rep. Anna Eshoo (D-Calif.) said that if the Republicans wanted to "vote against expanding opportunities for women and minorities in the media, then do an amendment on that. Why saw this guy's head off because some talk show host says so," she asked.

The "czars" Scalise's amendment was referring to included the director, White House Office of Health Reform; assistant to the President for Energy and Climate Change; special advisor for green jobs, enterprise
and innovation, Council on Environmental Quality; senior advisor to the Secretary of the
Treasury assigned to the Presidential Task Force on the Auto Industry and senior counselor for manufacturing policy, and the White House director of Urban Affairs.

Lloyd was targeted by House Republicans back in fall 2009 (, including by current House Communications Subcommittee Chair Greg Walden (R-Ore.), over his writings as a senior fellow at the Center for American Progress, where he was co-author of a June 2007 paper, "The Structural Imbalance of Political Talk Radio."

There was no talk about Lloyd at the FCC oversight hearing Wednesday chaired by Walden and featuring all the FCC commissioners. But that was not the case in the September 2009 FCC oversight hearing featuring the same FCC commissioner cast. During that hearing, Walden, a former broadcaster, invoked the czar appellation. "There is a lot of talk about czars. I hope we don't have a government speech czar that is going to drive a whole different mechanism through rulemakings and challenging licensees." Walden said at the time.

FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski at the time assured the legislators that Lloyd would be concentrating on broadband and would not be dealing with FCC broadcast license issues.