House and Senate members staring down difficult reelection races less than one year away face a tough decision as opposition to two Internet anti-piracy bills continues to mount.
The two bills — the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) in the House and the Protect IP Act in the Senate — were championed by the entertainment industry as measures to prevent foreign websites from promoting copyright infringement with impunity. But a recent backlash from free-speech advocates, Internet giants and even President Obama has lowered the probability that Congress will enact them as drafted.
Sen. Marco RubioMarco RubioRepublicans giving Univision the cold shoulder: report Week ahead: Senate panel to vote on Trump's Labor pick Senators introduce new Iran sanctions MORE (R-Fla.) on Wednesday withdrew his co-sponsorship in the Senate, while Republican Reps. Lee Terry (Neb.) and Ben Quayle (Ariz.) have backed away in the House. Sen. Jerry MoranJerry MoranGOP lawmakers lead way in holding town halls Yahoo reveals new details about security A guide to the committees: Senate MORE (R-Kan.) signed on in June but pulled his name days later.
Sen. Orrin HatchOrrin HatchOvernight Finance: US preps cases linking North Korea to Fed heist | GOP chair says Dodd-Frank a 2017 priority | Chamber pushes lawmakers on Trump's trade pick | Labor nominee faces Senate US Chamber urges quick vote on USTR nominee Lighthizer Live coverage: Day three of Supreme Court nominee hearing MORE (R-Utah), who faces a serious primary threat, yanked his support for the Senate bill on Wednesday, calling it “not ready for prime time.”
“Rushing something with such potential for far-reaching consequences is something I cannot support, and that’s why I will not only vote against moving the bill forward next week but also remove my co-sponsorship of the bill,” Hatch said in a statement. He also sent a letter to Senate Majority Leader Harry ReidHarry ReidAfter healthcare fail, 4 ways to revise conservative playbook Dem senator 'not inclined to filibuster' Gorsuch This obscure Senate rule could let VP Mike Pence fully repeal ObamaCare once and for all MORE (D-Nev.) last week suggesting he put off a scheduled vote on Tuesday.
In each of the two chambers, there are about a dozen members who are still on board with the bills but whose less-than-certain reelection prospects have raised the possibility that they could retreat from the legislation before further damage is done.
Sen. Scott Brown (R-Mass.), embroiled in the most closely watched Senate race in the country, has already said he will vote against the bill.
But Sen. Sherrod BrownSherrod BrownPath to 60 narrows for Trump pick Overnight Finance: Trump stock slump | GOP looks to tax bill for lifeline | Trump repeals 'blacklisting rule' | Dem wants ethics probe into Treasury secretary Dems question potential Kushner real estate deal with Chinese firm MORE (D-Ohio) has signed on as a co-sponsor — he faces a difficult reelection fight against Ohio state Treasurer Josh Mandel (R) in November.
Other vulnerable Democrats up for reelection in 2012 who have backed the Senate bill include Sens. Bill NelsonBill NelsonPath to 60 narrows for Trump pick The Hill’s Whip List: Where Dems stand on Trump’s Supreme Court nominee Overnight Tech: Senate votes to eliminate Obama internet privacy rules | FCC chief wants to stay out of 'political debate' on fake news | Wikileaks reveals new CIA docs MORE (Fla.)and Bob CaseyBob CaseyPath to 60 narrows for Trump pick Senators call for pay equity for US women's hockey team Under pressure, Dems hold back Gorsuch support MORE Jr. (Pa.).
Even non-incumbent candidates who won’t have to vote on the measures were pulled into the fray, including businessman John Brunner, the front-running Republican aiming to take on Sen. Claire McCaskillClaire McCaskillPath to 60 narrows for Trump pick Under pressure, Dems hold back Gorsuch support Overnight Defense: General warns State Department cuts would hurt military | Bergdahl lawyers appeal Trump motion | Senators demand action after nude photo scandal MORE (D-Mo.) in November.
“As a United States senator, I will oppose all efforts to dismantle a free and open Internet,” Brunner said in a statement.
Top Democratic leaders who are not up for reelection — including Sens. Charles SchumerCharles SchumerPelosi, more Dems call for Nunes to step aside Nunes will not step down from Russia probe Top House Intel Dem: Nunes should recuse himself MORE (N.Y.) and Dick DurbinDick DurbinThe Hill’s Whip List: Where Dems stand on Trump’s Supreme Court nominee Gorsuch rewrites playbook for confirmation hearings Gorsuch: I'm 'sorry' for ruling against autistic student MORE (Ill.) — are also on board.
In the House, the chairman of the Democratic Caucus, Rep. John Larson (Conn.), and the chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee, Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (Fla.), are both on board. So is Rep. John BarrowJohn BarrowDem files Ethics complaint on Benghazi panel Barrow thanks staff in farewell speech The best and the worst of the midterms MORE (D-Ga.), whose district was made much more difficult for him by redistricting. Rep. Bill Owens (D-N.Y.), who won his 2010 reelection by less than two points, is also a co-sponsor.
California Reps. Brad Sherman and Howard Berman have both added their names to the House bill. The two Democrats, who have a similar voting record, were pitted against each other in redistricting, and will need to find areas where they can draw contrasts ahead of a primary contest that will determine who will have a chance to keep his seat in the House.
— This story was updated at 8:44 p.m.