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Richard Durbin on Technology

Democratic Sr Senator (IL)


Supports "Fairness Doctrine" requiring balance in talk radio

Liberals plotting to undermine Fox News are itching to bring back the "Fairness Doctrine" to destroy talk radio and invoke campaign finance laws to restrict speech on the Internet. The "Fairness Doctrine" does not apply to TV stations, newspapers, magazines, or movies. Only on the radio is the government required to enforce "fairness."

By mandating that any political views disseminated over the radio be counterbalanced by the opposing view, the "Fairness Doctrine" not only requires radio stations to give boring crackpots airtime, it also creates an administrative nightmare. What is fair? There are conservative and liberal views--but there are also libertarian, Green party, and Marxist views. Reimplementation of the "Fairness Doctrine" spells the end of talk radio.

So naturally Democrats are itching to bring it back! Senators Jeff Bingaman, Richard Durbin, Dianne Feinstein, John Kerry, and Chuck Schumer--all Democrats--have said they want to reinstate the "Fairness Doctrine."

Source: Guilty, by Ann Coulter, p. 18-19 , Nov 10, 2009

Voted YES on authorizing states to collect Internet sales taxes.

Congressional Summary: The Marketplace Fairness Act of 2013 authorizes each state to require all sellers with sales exceeding $1 million in the preceding calendar year to collect and remit sales and use taxes, but only if complying with the minimum simplification requirements relating to the administration of such taxes & audits.

Opponent's Argument for voting No (Cnet.com): Online retailers are objecting to S.743, saying it's unreasonable to expect small businesses to comply with the detailed--and sometimes conflicting--regulations of nearly 10,000 government tax collectors. S.743 caps years of lobbying by the National Retail Federation and the Retail Industry Leaders Association, which represent big box stores. President Obama also supports the bill.

Proponent's Argument for voting Yes: Sen. COLLINS. This bill rectifies a fundamental unfairness in our current system. Right now, Main Street businesses have to collect sales taxes on every transaction, but outbecause -of-state Internet sellers don't have to charge this tax, they enjoy a price advantage over the mom-and-pop businesses. This bill would allow States to collect sales taxes on Internet sales, thereby leveling the playing field with Main Street businesses. This bill does not authorize any new or higher tax, nor does it impose an Internet tax. It simply helps ensure that taxes already owed are paid.

Opponent's Argument for voting No: Sen. WYDEN: This bill takes a function that is now vested in government--State tax collection--and outsources that function to small online retailers. The proponents say it is not going to be hard for small businesses to handle this--via a lot of new computer software and the like. It is, in fact, not so simple. There are more than 5,000 taxing jurisdictions in our country. Some of them give very different treatment for products and services that are almost identical.

Durbin says, "Durbin (D-IL)"

Reference: Marketplace Fairness Act; Bill S.743 ; vote number 13-SV113 on May 6, 2013

Voted YES on $23B instead of $4.9B for waterway infrastructure.

Vote on overriding Pres. Bush's veto. The bill reauthorizes the Water Resources Development Act (WRDA): to provide for the conservation and development of water and related resources, to authorize the Secretary of the Army to construct various projects for improvements to rivers and harbors of the United States. The bill authorizes flood control, navigation, and environmental projects and studies by the Army Corps of Engineers. Also authorizes projects for navigation, ecosystem or environmental restoration, and hurricane, flood, or storm damage reduction in 23 states including Louisiana.

Veto message from President Bush:

This bill lacks fiscal discipline. I fully support funding for water resources projects that will yield high economic and environmental returns. Each year my budget has proposed reasonable and responsible funding, including $4.9 billion for 2008, to support the Army Corps of Engineers' main missions. However, this authorization bill costs over $23 billion. This is not fiscally responsible, particularly when local communities have been waiting for funding for projects already in the pipeline. The bill's excessive authorization for over 900 projects and programs exacerbates the massive backlog of ongoing Corps construction projects, which will require an additional $38 billion in future appropriations to complete. This bill does not set priorities. I urge the Congress to send me a fiscally responsible bill that sets priorities.

Reference: Veto override on Water Resources Development Act; Bill Veto override on H.R. 1495 ; vote number 2007-406 on Nov 8, 2007

Voted NO on restoring $550M in funding for Amtrak for 2007.

An amendment to provide an additional $550,000,000 for Amtrak for fiscal year 2007. Voting YEA would increase Amtrak funding from $900 million to $1.45 billion. Voting NAY would keep Amtrak funding at $900 million.
Reference: Santorum amendment to Transportation funding bill; Bill S.Amdt.3015 to S.Con.Res.83 ; vote number 2006-052 on Mar 15, 2006

Voted YES on disallowing FCC approval of larger media conglomerates.

Vote to pass a joint resolution expressing congressional disapproval of the rule submitted by the Federal Communications Commission. The rule would therefore have no force or effect. The rule in question deals with broadcast media ownership and would allow media conglomerates to own more television stations and newspapers.
Reference: FCC Media Ownership bill; Bill S J Res 17/H.J.RES.72 ; vote number 2003-348 on Sep 16, 2003

Voted YES on Internet sales tax moratorium.

Vote against allowing states to require companies who do business in their state solely by phone, mail, or the Internet to collect state sales taxes. [Current law does not require companies to collect sales taxes where the customer is out of state]
Reference: Bill S.442 ; vote number 1998-296 on Oct 2, 1998

Promote internet via Congressional Internet Caucus.

Durbin is a member of the Congressional Internet Caucus:

Founded in the spring of 1996, the Congressional Internet Caucus is a bipartisan group of over 150 members of the House and Senate working to educate their colleagues about the promise and potential of the Internet. The Caucus also encourages Members to utilize the Internet in communications with constituents and supports efforts to put more government documents online. The Internet Caucus Advisory Committee and the Internet Education Foundation host regular events and forums for policymakers, the press, and the public to discuss important Internet-related policy issues.

Source: Congressional Internet Caucus web site, NetCaucus.org 01-CIC1 on Jan 1, 2001

Require websites to police for copyrighted materials.

Durbin co-sponsored PIPA: PROTECT IP Act

Congressional Summary:Preventing Real Online Threats to Economic Creativity and Theft of Intellectual Property Act, or the PROTECT IP Act, or PIPA (in the House, Stop Online Piracy Act or SOPA) :

OnTheIssues Notes: SOPA and PIPA, proponents claim, would better protect electronic copyright ("IP", or Intellectual Property). Opponents argue that SOPA and PIPA would censor the Internet. Internet users and entrepreneurs oppose the two bills; google.com and wikipedia.com held a "blackout" on Jan. 18, 2012 in protest. An alternative bill, the OPEN Act was proposed on Jan. 18 to protect intellectual property without censorship; internet businesses prefer the OPEN Act while the music and movie industries prefer SOPA and PIPA.

Source: HR3261/S968 11-S968 on May 12, 2011

Strengthen infrastructure, including rail, dams, & Internet.

Durbin co-sponsored Rebuild America Act

Source: S.4 13-S0004 on Jan 22, 2013

Create online database of science & math scholarships.

Durbin co-sponsored creating online database of science & math scholarships

Directs the Secretary of Education to establish and maintain, on the public website of the Department of Education, a database of information on public and private programs of financial assistance for the study of postsecondary and graduate science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.

    Requires that such database:
  1. provide separate information for each field of study;
  2. be searchable by category and combinations of categories;
  3. indicate programs targeted toward specific demographic groups;
  4. provide searchers with program sponsor contact information and hyperlinks; and
  5. include a recommendation that students and families carefully review application requirements and a disclaimer that scholarships presented in the database are not provided or endorsed by the Department or the federal government.
Requires the Secretary and the entity contracted to furnish and regularly update information to consult with public and private sources of scholarships and make easily available a process for the sources to provide regular and updated information.
Source: National STEM Scholarship Database Act (S.2428/H.R.1051) 2007-S2428 on Dec 6, 2007

Overturn FCC approval of media consolidation.

Durbin co-sponsored overturning FCC approval of media consolidation

Congressional Summary:Disapproves the rule submitted by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) on February 22, 2008, relating to broadcast media ownership. Declares that the rule shall have no force or effect.

Proponents' Argument in Favor:Sen. DORGAN: The FCC loosened the ban on cross-ownership of newspapers and broadcast stations. We seek with this resolution of disapproval to reverse the FCC's fast march to ease media ownership rules. The FCC has taken a series of destructive actions in the past two decades that I believe have undermined the public interest. [Now they have given] a further green light to media concentration.

The FCC voted to allow cross-ownership of newspapers and broadcast stations in the top 20 markets, with loopholes for mergers outside of the top 20 markets. The newspapers would be allowed to buy stations ranked above fifth and above.

The rule change was framed as a modest compromise. But make no mistake, this is a big deal. As much as 44% of the population lives in the top 20 markets. The last time the FCC tried to do this, in 2003, the Senate voted to block it.

This rule will undercut localism and diversity of ownership around the country. Studies show that removing the ban on newspaper/broadcast cross-ownership results in a net loss in the amount of local news produced in the market as a whole. In addition, while the FCC suggests that cross-ownership is necessary to save failing newspapers, the publicly traded newspapers earn annual rates of return between 16% and 18%.

This Resolution of Disapproval will ensure this rule change has no effect. This is again a bipartisan effort to stop the FCC from destroying the local interests that we have always felt must be a part of broadcasting.

Source: S.J.RES.28&H.J.RES.79 2008-SJR28 on Mar 5, 2008

Televise proceedings of the Supreme Court.

Durbin signed bill to televise proceedings of the Supreme Court

A bill to permit the televising of Supreme Court proceedings. Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, that Chapter 45 of title 28, US Code, is amended by inserting at the end the following:

'The Supreme Court shall permit television coverage of all open sessions of the Court unless the Court decides, by a vote of the majority of justices, that allowing such coverage in a particular case would constitute a violation of the due process rights of 1 or more of the parties before the Court.'

Source: S.446&H.R.429 2009-S446 on Feb 13, 2009

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Page last updated: Aug 11, 2014