Sunday, March 8, 2015

The Politics of RAWA

There are so many things wrong with this, it's not funny.  I will have more to say about it
another time, but I want to keep posting it so we never forget exactly who we're fighting...

First, this is not one of those political discussions where I take sides.  Lefty that I am, I realize that neither wing of our current Congress is particularly friendly to poker or gambling, but specific individuals are.  Concurrently, neither side is totally for RAWA or against it, as there are specific individuals with reasons pro or con.

The fact is that, like it or not, RAWA is a political action, and, as such, will go through the political process.  My purpose here is to bring certain issues to light, and, for fun, to discuss some of those issues while comparing HR 707 (Restore America’s Wire Act) to HR 4411 and HR 4777 of 2006 - the Internet Gambling Prohibition and Enforcement Act and the Internet Gambling Prohibition Act (which, as you know, were “blended” together (taking out, ironically, any reference to the original Wire Act) - into the Safe Port Act and came out as UIGEA.  And if you didn’t know, the whole horrid story can be found here.

First – RAWA currently has 14 cosponsors, including three Democrats.  IGPEA of 2006 also had three Dems, but a total of 35 cosponsors, and IGPA had a total of 146 cosponsors.  RAWA, in terms of cosponsorships, is a piker.

Next, RAWA had a scheduled hearing, but “because of a snowstorm” was cancelled.  IGPEA held no hearings, but was “reported by committee” to the House for consideration, as was IGPA.  It was in the House that HR 4411 (IGPEA) became House Resolution 907 for the purpose of…well, hell, read it:

That upon the adoption of this resolution it shall be in order without intervention of any point of order to consider in the House the bill (H.R. 4411) to prevent the use of certain payment instruments, credit cards, and fund transfers for unlawful Internet gambling, and for other purposes. In lieu of the amendments recommended by the Committees on Financial Services and the Judiciary now printed in the bill, the amendment in the nature of a substitute depicted in the Rules Committee Print dated July 5, 2006, shall be considered as adopted. The bill, as amended, shall be considered as read. The previous question shall be considered as ordered on the bill, as amended, and on any further amendment thereto to final passage without intervening motion except: (1) one hour of debate on the bill, as amended, equally divided among and controlled by the chairman and ranking minority member of the Committee on Financial Services and the chairman and ranking minority member of the Committee on the Judiciary; (2) the further amendment printed in the report of the Committee on Rules accompanying this resolution, if offered by Representative Berkley of Nevada or her designee, which shall be in order without intervention of any point of order or demand for division of the question, shall be considered as read, and shall be separately debatable for 20 minutes equally divided and controlled by the proponent and an opponent; and (3) one motion to recommit with or without instructions.

So it came to pass by vote, 313 to 97.  And there it died.  The Senate never took it up, and for all intents and purposes, gambling on the Internet was AOK.  Until the Safe Port Act, and Black Friday, and so on.

Want some more parallels?

James Leach of Iowa was HR 4411’s author.  He’s no longer in the House, but the author of HR 4777 (Leach’s bill but WITH the part about the Wire Act) is Bob Goodlatte…who just so happens to be the Chairman of the House Committee on the Judiciary, the very committee who planned to hear RAWA.

What seems likely to me that, hearing or not (or fair hearing or not), there is a good chance that RAWA will be “reported by committee” to the House for consideration just like in 2006.  From there?  The question is once again if the Senate will take up the ball and run with it.  Lindsey Graham says he will, and he has the “backing” (read: money) of King-maker Sheldon Adelson.  But two issues trouble me here:  one, while passing the House seems likely because of the Republican majority (despite those who recognize that the bill violates “states rights” sovereignty), the Senate is less so (even with Harry “Turncoat” Reid leading the Dems).  Two, Graham got Adelson’s blessing (and cash) for a potential Presidential run in 2016, but recent polls from his own home state of South Carolina show the majority DON’T want him.  How willing will Graham be to go to bat for Shelly when his own political future (outside of staying a Senator) is dim?

No, it is far more likely that if RAWA is to be the law of the land, it will happen the same way that UIGEA came to be.  That is, by sneaking it onto some “must-pass” legislation and calling for another “Midnight Drop” (last-minute rulemaking that binds the hands of an incoming administration). 

Of course, this time, we’ll be watching like a hawk.

Oh, yeah, one more thing – in the “Safe Port” act there is the following at the very end:
Sec 803 (b) - Internet gambling in or through foreign jurisdictions
The Secretary of the Treasury shall submit an annual report to the Congress on any deliberations between the United States and other countries on issues relating to Internet gambling.

Anybody seen that report?  Just askin’ is all.

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