After the Internet blackout, congressional support for PIPA has collapsed leading both Democratic and Republican Senate negotiators to predict that PIPA will be defeated.
The latest Open Congress whip count for PIPA lists 33 Senators in support or leaning towards supporting the bill, and 40 Senators opposed or leaning towards opposing the bill. Fight For The Future noted that the opposition to PIPA has grown from 5 Senators to 35 (now 40 including leaners) in the past week. It has to be disappointing for liberals and progressives that more than 20 of the remaining sponsors are Democrats. (This list includes some progressive champions like Al Franken and Sherrod Brown).
The sudden rise of PIPA opposition led The New York Times to report today, “Negotiators from both parties are scrambling for new language that could assuage the concerns of the Internet community, but expectations are that the bill will now fail to get the 60 votes to move forward — a significant setback.”
The fact that Senate supporters are looking to revise the language in the bill to make it more acceptable to the opposition means that even if the vote on January 24 fails, SOPA and PIPA opponents need to stay vigilant.
The House had announced plans to begin a markup of SOPA in February, but if PIPA gets derailed in the Senate, the House markup will likely be shelved or delayed. (SOPA supporters are hoping to use a Senate passed PIPA as a guide for a new version of SOPA).
If SOPA and PIPA aren’t passed by the spring, they are unlikely to be passed at all. The House’s election year calendar has the body in session for only 109 days in 2012, with a plan to adjourn for the year on December 8. Being that every member of the House is up for reelection in 2012, the chamber will be virtually gone by the summer until after the 2012 election. The Senate will only be in session for 22 of the first 36 weeks of the year, and only has a week of legislative activity in January. The Senate schedule also eases up in the fall so that senators who are facing reelection can go back home and campaign.
If PIPA opponents want to send a strong message, they need to secure more than the required 41 no votes for January 24. The more no votes cast, the harder it will be for PIPA supporters to change the bill in order to ensure passage. Fifty or more no votes would make it clear that this bill can’t be fixed.
The Obama administration’s vocal opposition to SOPA and PIPA, along with the Internet protest, and an election year climate where tea partiers want to send a message to their supporters has all created a climate that makes the passage of SOPA and PIPA look unlikely, but unlikely isn’t the same as dead.
The message to SOPA and PIPA opponents is clear. Don’t be satisfied with 41 no votes on the PIPA procedural vote on Tuesday. In an election year strange things can happen, so don’t stop fighting until both of these bills are dead and buried.