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.

ADVERTISEMENT
Both bills have roughly an even number of Republicans and Democrats signed on as co-sponsors, making it difficult for members to apply to this hot-button issue their usual calculus about where they want to position themselves on the ideological spectrum.

Sen. Marco RubioMarco Antonio RubioAdministration works to assuage critics over ZTE deal Hillicon Valley: Judge rules Trump can't block Twitter users | ISIS content finds a home on Google Plus | Rubio rips ZTE demands as 'terrible deal' | Bill would protect kids' data Overnight Finance: Trump eyes 'different structure' for China trade deal | Trump mulls auto import tariffs | Banks get green light to offer short-term loans 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 MoranGerald (Jerry) MoranRepublicans think Trump is losing trade war Senators demand answers on Trump’s ZTE deal Senate GOP urges Trump administration to work closely with Congress on NAFTA MORE (R-Kan.) signed on in June but pulled his name days later.

Sen. Orrin HatchOrrin Grant HatchSenate Finance Committee releases 22 opioid bills to mark up in ‘coming weeks’ Republicans think Trump is losing trade war McConnell tells senators he might scrap August recess 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 Mason ReidMcConnell not yet ready to change rules for Trump nominees The Hill's Morning Report — Sponsored by CVS Health — Trump’s love-hate relationship with the Senate Trump to press GOP on changing Senate rules 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 Campbell BrownTrump on collision course with Congress on ZTE Pa. health secretary: 'Sustainable funding' needed to attack opioid crisis The Hill's Morning Report — Sponsored by PhRMA — How long can a Trump-DOJ accord survive? 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 NelsonClarence (Bill) William NelsonPoll: 8 in 10 people in key states concerned about driverless cars Ted Cruz and Bill Nelson give NASA a reality check on privatizing International Space Station Overnight Defense: Senate confirms Haspel as CIA chief | Trump offers Kim 'protections' if he gives up nukes | Dem amendments target Trump military parade MORE (Fla.)and Bob CaseyRobert (Bob) Patrick CaseySenators offer tax bill aimed at helping first responders McConnell: Midterms will be 'very challenging' for GOP Trump congratulates 'special guy' Barletta on win in Pennsylvania 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 Conner McCaskillThe Hill's Morning Report — Sponsored by PhRMA — Republicans see some daylight in midterm polling Trump urges anti-abortion advocates to rally in November Calif. gov candidates battle for second place 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 (Chuck) Ellis SchumerThe Hill's 12:30 Report — Sponsored by Delta Air Lines — GOP centrists in striking distance of immigration vote Schumer: Trump should take Kim Jong Un off 'trip coin' Overnight Finance: Trump signs repeal of auto-loan policy | Justices uphold contracts that bar employee class-action suits | US, China trade war 'on hold' MORE (N.Y.) and Dick DurbinRichard (Dick) Joseph DurbinHouse easily passes prison reform bill backed by Trump This week: House GOP regroups after farm bill failure Overnight Health Care — Sponsored by PCMA — Trump hits federally funded clinics with new abortion restrictions 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 Jenkins BarrowOur democracy can’t afford to cut legal aid services from the budget Dem files Ethics complaint on Benghazi panel Barrow thanks staff in farewell speech 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.