Waxman: College football bill not likely headed for endzone

House Energy and Commerce Commitee Chairman Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) on Thursday indicated that a bill pushing for a major college football playoffs is not likely to receive a vote before the full committee.

Waxman told The Hill that the voice vote on Wednesday to pass the bill through the Commerce, Trade and Consumer Protection subcommittee may have been enough to get the point across.

ADVERTISEMENT
When asked about the prospects of a full committee vote on the bill, Waxman said “We’re very busy."

The bill’s sponsor, Rep. Joe Barton (R-Texas), told The Hill on Tuesday that Waxman has told him in private conversations that he is “generally supportive” of the bill but that Waxman made no promises about a full committee vote.

Barton previously said that President Barack Obama assured him he would sign the bill if it reaches his desk, but that prospect now appears unlikely. If Waxman does not bring the bill to a floor vote, it would in effect kill the bill for this session of Congress.

The College Football Playoff Act of 2009 would ban promoting, marketing or advertising a "national championship game" unless the game is part of a single-elimination playoff tournament like the National Football League playoffs. The bill threatens to hold college football's governing body in violation of Federal Trade Commission truth-in-advertising provisions.

“The important thing about the action of the subcommittee is to send a clear message,” Waxman said. “Oftentimes we don’t need legislation to accomplish our goals.”

Under the Bowl Championship Series (BCS), two teams are selected based on human and computer rankings to play in the national championship game after the regular season.

The bill would apply to National Collegiate Athletic Association Football Bowl Subdivision teams, the top rung of college football. Lowers levels of the sport already have playoff tournaments.

Several lawmakers, including Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) and Barton, argue that the BCS is unfair to smaller schools because it often selects teams from large conferences to play in the national championship game.

Barton has consistently called the system an “economic cartel.”

Hatch's home-state Utah Utes had an undefeated season in 2008 but were not selected to play in the championship. The Utes play in the small Mountain West Conference. Barton represents a district near Fort Worth, where Texas Christian University, which has the nation's third-ranked team, is located.

TCU, which also plays in the Mountain West Conference, was undefeated this season but was not selected to play for the national championship.

Barton's office has not yet responded to a request for comment.