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 RubioTHE MEMO: Trump takes the fight to Congress Rubio says town halls designed for people to 'heckle and scream' At CPAC, Trump lashes out at media 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 MoranYahoo reveals new details about security A guide to the committees: Senate Verizon, Yahoo slash merger deal by 0M over data breaches MORE (R-Kan.) signed on in June but pulled his name days later.
Sen. Orrin HatchOrrin HatchHow to marry housing policy and tax reform for millions of Americans Though flawed, complex Medicaid block grants have fighting chance A guide to the committees: Senate 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 ReidSanders and Schumer are right: Ellison for DNC chair The Hill's 12:30 Report Hopes rise for law to expand access to experimental drugs 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 BrownSanders, not Trump, is the real working-class hero A guide to the committees: Senate House bill would prevent Trump from lifting Russian sanctions 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 NelsonA guide to the committees: Senate Senate advances Trump's Commerce pick CMS nominee breezes through confirmation hearing MORE (Fla.)and Bob CaseyBob CaseyA guide to the committees: Senate GOP loses top Senate contenders How many GOP senators will stand up to megadonor DeVos? Just 2. 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 McCaskillDem 2020 hopefuls lead pack in opposing Trump Cabinet picks Manchin: Sanders backers should challenge me in Dem primary The DNC in the age of Trump: 5 things the new chairman needs to do 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 SchumerDean: Schumer's endorsement 'kiss of death' for Ellison How the candidates for DNC chair stack up ahead of Saturday's vote DNC candidate Harrison drops out, backs Perez for chairman MORE (N.Y.) and Dick DurbinDick DurbinDems rip Trump administration for revoking Obama's transgender directive A guide to the committees: Senate McConnell: I’m very sympathetic to 'Dreamers' 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.