A couple of days ago I listened to the Pocket Fives podcast from last week (the April 10 episode) featuring a brief interview with Rep. Barney Frank (D-MA). Wanted to share a little of what he said there as it relates to H.R. 5767, the new bill he and Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX) proposed late last week “to prohibit the Secretary of the Treasury and the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System from proposing, prescribing, or implementing any regulation” pertaining to the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act of 2006.
When asked about the April 2nd hearing before the House Judiciary Committee, Frank said he thought “hearing was very helpful” insofar as it illustrated quite comprehensively how the various entities comprising the American payments system do not see the UIGEA as workable. Thus, no matter one’s views on gambling per se, the fact that the banks, credit unions, and other financial transaction providers don’t see the UIGEA as practically enforceable itself constitutes “a good argument for getting rid of that part of the bill.”
Frank was then asked about the current status of his bill, the Internet Gambling Regulation and Enforcement Act (H.R. 2046), which he introduced just about one year ago. The interview was clearly conducted prior to Frank and Paul introducing H.R. 5767, and thus no references were made to the new legislation. I do think, however, Frank had this new UIGEA-blocking bill in mind when answering David Huber’s questions.
In response to a question about whether or not our being in an election year might hurt the chances of his IGREA from moving forward this year, Frank answered that “it does hurt our chances . . . not so much because of the politics, but particularly because of the time factor.” Since it is a presidential election year, Frank explained, Congress will be taking a couple of weeks off toward the end of the summer for the party conventions, and with the campaigning that will surely follow, he doesn’t believe they’ll even be in session after October 1.
“On the other hand, while I wasn’t too optimistic about some of the votes [for the IGREA], that hearing was very helpful. The hearing was so critical of this approach that was taken and so many members joined in the criticism, that I now think something might be possible,” Frank continued.
He then addressed the question I had posed last weekend about whether or not an anti-UIGEA bill would make it beyond the president’s desk. As Schoolhouse Rock taught us, any bill that makes through the House and Senate must also be signed by the president before it becomes a law.
“I doubt that we’ll get it all the way through and I think President Bush frankly has promised the right-wing . . . religious coalition that is so important to him that he would veto any change. But I think we can move. We can make some progress here so that next year we’ll be closer to being able to do it fairly quickly.”
Like I say, Frank is ostensibly referring to his IGREA here, but I think his words might also apply to the new H.R. 5767. The new bill may well have a chance, but only if it is not passed through the House and Senate before January 20, 2009.
And even then, the fate of H.R. 5767 will depend a lot who is sitting in that chair in the Oval Office.